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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Unveils Groundbreaking Discovery of Massive Hydrothermal Vent Fields in the Red Sea

In a landmark scientific breakthrough, researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have uncovered the existence of extensive hydrothermal vent fields in the Red Sea. The university, in a press release issued on Monday, disclosed that the Hatiba Mons fields, identified as the largest of their kind ever reported, played a central role in this groundbreaking discovery.

Hydrothermal vents, akin to hot springs generated by underwater volcanoes situated at the boundaries of tectonic plates, release warm fluids heated by magma beneath the volcano. KAUST researchers observed an unprecedented abundance of microbial communities, surpassing normal levels, in the Hatiba Mons fields, indicative of active hydrothermal venting.

This remarkable finding is anticipated to yield valuable insights into the biological and mineralogical resources present in the deep Red Sea, as well as shed light on the evolutionary processes of life in extreme environments, according to KAUST. The university underscored the significance of these revelations for advancing our understanding of the unique ecosystem concealed beneath the Red Sea's depths.

Meticulous mapping efforts by KAUST scientists revealed the presence of 45 vent fields covering an expansive area of 1.6 square kilometers at Hatiba Mons. Notably, all 14 directly observed fields were actively venting, setting them apart from other vent fields globally, which are typically confined to smaller regions along mid-ocean ridges exhibiting active venting.

The relatively low temperatures of the vents, measured at 40 degrees Celsius, have contributed to the formation of numerous iron-oxyhydroxide mounds that host thriving microbial communities. These communities are believed to play a pivotal role in the development of the large mounds, creating favorable conditions for life to flourish through positive feedback mechanisms.

An intriguing observation made by the researchers was the presence of macrofauna near the vents. This discovery highlights the potential of these microbial communities to provide valuable insights into the origins and adaptation of life in the deep sea, unveiling new dimensions of the intricate marine ecosystem.

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology's groundbreaking discovery opens up avenues for further research and exploration, promising a wealth of knowledge on the unique geological and biological features hidden beneath the Red Sea's depths. As the scientific community eagerly anticipates further revelations, KAUST's findings mark a significant contribution to the understanding of hydrothermal vent ecosystems and their impact on marine life.



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