World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Hydrothermal vents and seamounts of the Azores

Article Id: WHEBN0025735077
Reproduction Date:

Title: Hydrothermal vents and seamounts of the Azores  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Azores, Azores Islands, Gruta das Torres, Dollabarat, Princess Alice Bank
Collection: Geology of the Azores, Hydrothermal Vents
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Hydrothermal vents and seamounts of the Azores

The hydrothermal vents and seamounts of the Azores (Portuguese: fontes hidrotermais e montes submarinos dos Açores) are a series of seamounts which part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and extensive field of hydrothermal vents located in the Azores. Made up of large masses of basalt typical of mid-ocean regions, these formations, in addition to their geomorphological interest (as rich deposits of ores), are homes to a rich biodiversity of plant and animal life on Earth. They contain food chains whose primary production is purely chemosynthetic, independent of sunlight, and photosynthesis.


Efforts are being made to classify these areas as protected marine areas under the Convention for the Protection of the North Mid-Atlantic (OSPAR Convention) and in accordance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive. The World Wildlife Fund recognizes these efforts, awarding the Azorean regional government with the honorific "Gift to the Earth" prize for their contribution to the preservation of these marine ecosystems. The Azores have an extensive marine area with a variety of seamounts and submarine volcanoes, representing the highest peaks of a complex chain of seamounts located in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that are home to a diverse group of living creatures.

The isolated Dom João de Castro Bank, located between São Miguel and Terceira, is one such seamount included in this group. The hydrothermal vents located near it provide a good place to study the creatures that live in volcanic habitats.

The Azores also provide a good place to study deep-ocean hydrothermal vents. Deep-ocean hydrothermal vents, situated along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, have been the target of various investigative projects by many types of scientists. Recently, some interesting communities of living creatures were discovered in the "Lucky Strike" and in the "Menez Gwen" hydrothermal fields, both located in the Azores Exclusive Economic Zone.

"Lucky Strike" is the largest known hydrothermal field, with 21 active vents spread over 150 km2 (57.9 mi2). The hydrothermal fluids reach temperatures of 330°C (626°F), very close to the boiling point corresponding to the force of pressure at 1,100 m (3,609 ft). The field's fauna is bio-geographically distinct from that of other hydrothermal fields, predominately rich in mussels and associated species.

The "Menez Gwen" hydrothermal field is characterized by a 700 m (2,297 ft) volcano with a diameter of 17 km (10.6 mi). The hydrothermal fluids, with temperatures close to 280°C (536°F), emerge from various active vents at a depth of 850 m (2,789 ft). Large quantities of mussels cover the vents, and are accompanied by shrimps, crabs, and many other species.


  • SRAM, ed. (2004). Áreas Ambientais dos Açores [Environmental Areas of the Azores]. Horta, Azores: SRAM Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e Mar. 

External links

  • (Portuguese) (Gê-Questa: Association of Protection of the Environment)Gê-Questa: Associação de Defesa do Ambiente
  • (Portuguese) (Regional Secretariat for the Environment and Ocean of the Azores)Secrataria Regional do Ambiente e do Mar dos Açores

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.