The government announced Friday scientists discovered a spectacular field of deep-sea hot springs, minerals and exotic animals located 100 miles off the Oregon coast and stretching for five city blocks.
The scientists - using a Navy diving vehicle called "Sea Cliff" - observed geyserlike spouts, thickets of tube worms several feet high and topped with bright red plumes, crabs, octopi and deep sea fish in a mountain range along the northern Gorda Ridge at a depth of almost two miles, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.The temperature in one of the deep-sea springs was measured at nearly 500 degrees, said Peter Rona, a Commerce Department scientist who led the expedition of government and academic researchers.
Rona called the underwater field in the Pacific Ocean a "natural setting providing scientists a new frontier for scientific investigation to study first-hand how sea floor hot springs form metallic mineral deposits, support exotic forms of life, and influence the ocean environment."
The first vents in ocean floor off Oregon were first discovered in 1984, scientists said, and more vents were found in 1987 before the latest underwater find in late October.
Rona said his team observed large plates of Earth's crust that are pulling apart, and said sea water is heated by the volcanic rocks when it seeps through the cracks.
The scientists named their find the "Sea Cliff Hydrothermal Field."