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Imagine That! - Hydrothermal Vents #1

Imagine That!
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Imagine That! - Hydrothermal Vents #1

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

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An underwater lost city on the floor of the Atlantic sounds like something from a movie... but researchers recently found one!

Imagine That!

Not long ago, a team of University of Washington researchers dove down on a mission to check out a one and a half million year old seafloor mountain range in the Atlantic. What they explored were hydrothermal vents eighteen stories tall -- different than any other underwater hot spring ever found, because its immense heat doesn't come from a volcano. This Lost City, named for its mysterious qualities like that of the Lost City of Atlantis, gets its heat from a process called serpentinization.

What the heck is that? As researchers have just recently found out, serpentinization is what happens when seawater comes in contact with the mantle rock that the Lost City is composed of. When underwater tectonic plates shift, mantle rock splinters and becomes exposed. As seawater seeps into those cracks, a mineral called olivine, which is stored in the mantle, is transformed into the mineral serpentine. This process of transformation generates enormous amounts of heat, which powers the circulation of water through the vents.

Tons of secrets lie within the Lost City, and researchers are just now beginning to unlock them. Tune in tomorrow to hear about the amazing life forms found in the vents. They may be tiny, but they're big news! I'm Eric Phillips.

"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at

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