Luxuriant life on the Galápagos seafloor
Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
©1981. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 62, Issue 52, page 1201, 29 December 1981
How to Cite
1981), Luxuriant life on the Galápagos seafloor, Eos Trans. AGU, 62(52), 1201–1201, doi:10.1029/EO062i052p01201-01.(
- Issue published online: 3 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
- Cited By
Marine life found unexpectedly in 1977 in the vicinity of hydrothermal vents along the Galápagos Rift has proven to be of considerable interest because of newly discovered growth mechanisms. Among the life forms observed were giant tube worms, clams, mussels, and plantlike animals. If the sizes alone were beyond belief, the hostility of the living environment—noxious, hydrogen sulfide-rich warm pockets—appeared bizarre. Even though life at depths of 2.5 km on the seafloor is known normally to be sparse in comparison with shallow-water biological systems, the heated water pockets seem to account for the localized contradictions. What was difficult to explain was the toxic environment and the apparent lack of nutrients. Furthermore, the tube worms had no mouths, not even digestive systems. Recent reports in Science (November 20, 1981), and by the Smithsonian Institution (Research Reports), describe findings on bivalves studied at the hydrothermal vents and tube worms returned to the laboratory by the U.S. Navy research submersible Alvin. The growth rates are among the highest known for deep-sea life. The way the deep seafloor marine life are understood to ‘eat’ (absorb nutrients would be a better description) involves mechanisms never observed before that breakdown hydrogen sulfide with bacteria.