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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • Hydrothermal vents—Congresses
  • Hydrothermal deposits—Congresses
  • Hydrothermal vent ecology—Congresses

Index Terms

  • 4840 Oceanography: Biological and Chemical: Microbiology
  • 4825 Oceanography: Biological and Chemical: Geochemistry
  • 8135 Tectonophysics: Hydrothermal systems



Microbial interactions with hydrothermal fluids

H. W. Jannasch

When copious populations of animals clustering around deep-sea hydrothermal vents were first observed [Lonsdale, 1977, Ballard, 1977; Corliss et al., 1979], the foremost question concerned the origin of these unexpectedly high quantities of biomass. The deep sea has long been known as a desert-like environment, the input of energy for the heterotrophic production of biomass in the absence of light being limited to the sedimenting of particulate organic matter from the photosynthetically productive surface waters to the bottom. The decomposition and mineralization of this organic carbon occurs largely in the upper 200–300 m layers of the world oceans averaging at about 95% of their total primary productivity. Of the renaming 5% only about one fifth reaches the sea floor at greater depths in particulate form [e.g. Honjo and Manganini, 1993]. The scant benthic deep-sea animal populations, their diversity and feeding strategies reflect this limited particulate food source [Sanders et al., 1972]. Some of this particulate organic matter is replenished from dissolved organic carbon by microbial growth, the so-called “microbial loop”.

Citation: Jannasch, H. W. (1995), Microbial interactions with hydrothermal fluids, in Seafloor Hydrothermal Systems: Physical, Chemical, Biological, and Geological Interactions, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 91, edited by S. E. Humphris et al., pp. 273–296, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/GM091p0273.

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