Definitions

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a vent at the bottom of the ocean, usually at a mid-ocean ridge, through which large quantities of water carrying minerals flow, producing a jet of fluid with the appearance of black smoke. The ocean water in crevices below the vent is heated to temperatures near 400° C, and dissolves quantities of metal salts, such as of copper, zinc, gold, and manganese. When the saturated mineral solutions exit the vent, cooling by contact with the ocean causes the metals to precipitate, mainly as sulfide or sulfate salts. Unusual forms of life such as tube worms have been found to live in the areas near black smokers. Additional information is available from The Natural History Museum of London and The American Museum of Natural History Expeditions.

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