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Go With the Flow: Investigating Vents and Seeps

October 30, 2017

Exploring Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California

Tracing the San Andreas Fault to the south into the Gulf of California, small offsets in the North American-Pacific plate boundary occur at short, mid-ocean ridge spreading center segments. These active volcanic rifts are buried beneath organic-rich sediments of the Colorado River that empties into the northern end of the Gulf. Heat from volcanic eruptions and magma injected into these sediments causes exotic chemical reactions with formation waters that result in high- to low-temperature hydrothermal vents and related chemosynthetic ecosystems. ROV dives on some of these sites seek to map out the distribution of vents and fauna with respect to igneous intrusions and rift zones. Ongoing exploration aboard the E/V Nautilus can be experienced in real time online.