Canada: Deep, Dark and Hot
A tour of hydrothermal vents
on the ocean floor
The University of Victoria
The hottest water on Earth, over 400°C, gushes into the otherwise
barren depths of the cold ocean. One such spectacular site lies in Canadian
waters just off Vancouver Island. Hydrothermal vent studies are changing
basic ideas in many sciences. They present a new model for the origin
of life, explain chemical balances in the oceans, and provide new insights
on processes deep within the Earth's crust.
Visiting this last frontier on the planet tests even the best technology.
Nevertheless, we can reach these oases of life, kilometres below the ocean
surface, using manned and remotely operated submersibles. Once there,
we find strange associations between animals and bacteria that form some
of the densest biological growths in the ocean.
Hydrothermal vents offer a marvelous habitat where abundant food is available
to the venturesome. The challenges, however, include noxious chemical
toxins, undependable access to fluids, competition from your neighbours,
and a long way to go to the next vent. And just when you have made the
perfect home, the volcano under your feet erupts.
Simultaneous translation will be provided.
--the Speaker of the Senate, the Hon. Daniel Hays
--the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Hon. Peter Milliken
--Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE)
DATE: Thursday, March 15, 2001 from 7:30 am - 9:00 am