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First hot springs in U.S. waters.

First hot springs in U.S. waters

Searching along the barren desert that lies 2,800 meters below the sea surface, scientists have discovered a lush community of fish, crabs, giant tubeworms and other animals in a field of hot springs. Only 200 kilometers off the coast of Oregon, on the midocean spreading center called the Gorda ridge, this site is the first hydrothermal system found within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, says Peter A. Rona of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Miami.

Rona and his colleagues discovered the area while diving in the Navy's deep submerisble, Sea Cliff, in September. Similar hot spring oases have been found on other spreading centers -- where molten rock from the mantle rises to create new ocean crust as two adjoining crustal plates move apart.

Because of its provimity to the United States, the hydrothermal area will be an ideal study site, says Rona. Moreover, it may be a source for strategic minerals like manganese and cobalt. The hydrothermal water, which can reach temperatures of 400[deg.]C, often carries dissolved minerals that form deposits on the seafloor when the hot water mixes with the ocean bottom's normal 2[deg.]C water.
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Title Annotation:hydrothermal system found off coast of Oregon
Author:Monastersky, Richard
Publication:Science News
Date:Dec 17, 1988
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