New Mirror-Like Pools Discovered Deep in the Pacific Ocean

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Part of the mineral formation, with the reflective element seen at top.
Gif: Schmidt Ocean Institute (Schmidt Ocean Institute)

Scientists researching the microbial life on volcanic vents uncovered more incredible ocean landscapes from the seafloor off the coast of California. Just check this out:

An international team, led by University of Georgia associate professor Samantha Joye, set out to explore sites in both the northern and southern Gulf of California, analyzing how microorganisms live in the hot waters by the the vents. These images come from the ROV SuBastian, a remotely operated sub that can take samples and image the area around these vents, operated from the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel, Falkor.

“We discovered remarkable towers where every surface was occupied by some type of life. The vibrant colors found on the ‘living rocks’ was striking, and reflects a diversity in biological composition as well as mineral distributions,” Joye said in a news release.

The scientists are collecting microbes and analyzing their DNA from the boat using handheld sequencers, according to the Schmidt Ocean Institute website, then switching to more advanced equipment on shore. They visited eight sites in the Gulf.

More of the mirror-like effect from the pooling superheated fluid.
Gif: Schmidt Ocean Institute

But the team was visiting for more than just microbes—they discovered incredibly geological formations as well. That included a mineral towers as tall as 23 meters (75.5 feet) high and 10 meters (33 feet) across. The colorful towers contained metals and sulfur and vented incredibly hot fluids (366 Celsius or 690 Fahrenheit) but still thrived with microbial life. The hotter fluid also seemed to pool at parts of the tower, creating otherworldly mirror effects.


The results of the research are yet to come. But dang, what we’ve seen so far is pretty awesome.