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Hydrothermal vent fields and chemosynthetic biota on the world's deepest seafloor spreading centre.

Connelly, D.P. and Copley, J.T. and Murton, B.J. and Stansfield, K. and Tyler, P.A. and German, C.R. and Van Dover, C.L. and Amon, D. and Furlong, M. and Grindlay, N. and Hayman, N. and Huhnerbach, V. and Judge, M. and Le Bas, T. and McPhail, S. and Meier, A. and Nakamura, K. and Nye, V. and Pebody, M. and Pedersen, R. and Plouviez, S. and Sands, C. and Searle, R.C. and Stevenson, P. and Taws, S. and Wilcox, S. (2012) 'Hydrothermal vent fields and chemosynthetic biota on the world's deepest seafloor spreading centre.', Nature communications., 3 . p. 620.


The Mid-Cayman spreading centre is an ultraslow-spreading ridge in the Caribbean Sea. Its extreme depth and geographic isolation from other mid-ocean ridges offer insights into the effects of pressure on hydrothermal venting, and the biogeography of vent fauna. Here we report the discovery of two hydrothermal vent fields on the Mid-Cayman spreading centre. The Von Damm Vent Field is located on the upper slopes of an oceanic core complex at a depth of 2,300 m. High-temperature venting in this off-axis setting suggests that the global incidence of vent fields may be underestimated. At a depth of 4,960 m on the Mid-Cayman spreading centre axis, the Beebe Vent Field emits copper-enriched fluids and a buoyant plume that rises 1,100 m, consistent with >400 °C venting from the world's deepest known hydrothermal system. At both sites, a new morphospecies of alvinocaridid shrimp dominates faunal assemblages, which exhibit similarities to those of Mid-Atlantic vents.

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Publisher statement:This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:12 June 2012
Date of first online publication:January 2012
Date first made open access:No date available

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