Fool’s Gold from Hydrothermal Vents to Plankton

A nice little paper in Nature Geoscience that helps reconcile iron budgets for the word’s oceans.  The hot, mineral rich water that spews from hydrothermal vents contains a significant amount of fool’s gold, or iron pyrite.  Because iron pyrite is more resistant to rusting than basic iron and much of the iron pyrite venting is nanoparticles, they are though to disperse great distances before sinking and dissolving.  What makes this finding more important is that iron is often a limiting factor for phytoplankton growth in the oceans.  Thus, hydrothermal vents may an indirect but major role in carbon production in the world’s oceans.

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.