It was only 3 years ago when the northernmost vents were found in the Arctic Ocean at 71 degrees, just above Iceland. Dr. Rolf Pedersen is a geologist at the Centre for Geobiology at Norway’s University of Bergen and led that expedition that discovered extensive vent fields with vibrant animal communities.
Just this month, Dr. Pedersen and his team has done it again. Only days before the expedition’s end, researchers went speechless in the control room of the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) as the first trails of bacterial mats and black ‘smoke’ wafted across their monitors. In moments, an 11 meter tall hydrothermal vent arose from the darkness!
Located 120 miles north of the first arctic vents discovered in 2005, the new site, named Loki’s Castle, is situated between Greenland and Norway. The mid-ocean ridges at the far north are relatively stable compared to their southern counterparts and termed “ultra-slow” spreading ridges. This site contains a massive sulfide deposit that is about 825 feet in diameter at the base and 300 feet across on the top. Marvin Lilley, oceanographer at the University of Washington, explained that though more mapping is needed, this deposit may turn out to be the largest sulfide deposit known on the seafloor! The size of the field also hints at a long life, possibly “many thousands of years”.