Presented by Heather Olins
Since their discovery in 1977, scientists and non-scientists alike have been captivated by hydrothermal vent ecosystems. The geological setting and the biological processes that occur in these locations make them unlike any ecosystem on Earth. In this talk we will start out with some background about what these vents are and how they form. We will discuss the “alien” nature of hydrothermal vents in terms of the “extreme” conditions found at vents, the fundamental differences between the living things at vents and most organisms we are used to thinking about, the vast amount still unknown about these fascinating locations, and their potential to help us in the search for extraterrestrial life. Along the way we will get some snapshots of what it’s like to visit and study vents, and some areas of current research at hydrothermal vents.