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seafloor organisms

Now You're Cooking

WHOI scientists Adam Soule, Dan Lizarralde, and Jeff Seewald used a device developed by WHOI engineer Marshall Swartz to gather high-resolution images of seafloor organisms in the Gulf of California in 2009. The presence of life forms—in this image, crusty bacterial mats, clams, and spindly tube worms—confirmed the existence of magma intrusions into sediments dozens of kilometers away from a spreading center, which is where magma intrusions usually occur. The ultra-hot magma cooked hydrocarbons out of the sediments, making the chemicals available as a source of nourishment for bacteria that form the base of the seafloor community. The finding hints at a previously unknown mechanism of crust formation.

(Photo courtesy of Dan Lizarralde, Adam Soule, and Jeff Seewald, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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