›››››››Status of Hydrothermal Vent Studies
- The quality and quantity of the various sources of energy available to biological systems at deep sea hydrothermal vents on Earth continue to be measured and assessed.
- Investigators have recently quantified the nature of the light available (cf., Van Dover et al. 1994) at black smokers and flange pools along ridge systems in the Pacific:
- These light sources appear to be available for biological exploitation.
- One consequence of the tidal heating of Europa could be the formation of tectonic ridges and associated hydrothermal vent systems, including high-temperature vents similar to žblack smokersÓ on Earth (vents at 50km/665atm/supercritical steam)
- Photosynthesis could join chemosynthesis as an energy source available to biological systems in an Europan ocean.