Jeddah, January 08, 2024, Scientists at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have made a groundbreaking discovery, revealing the existence of active hydrothermal vent fields in the Red Sea. The Hatiba Mons fields, the largest of their kind ever reported, were the focal point of this discovery.
Hydrothermal vents are hot springs generated by underwater volcanoes at the boundaries of tectonic plates. The release of warm fluids, heated by magma beneath the volcano, leads to an abundance of microbial communities, surpassing normal levels.
The findings are expected to provide valuable insights into the deep Red Sea's biological and mineralogical resources, as well as the evolutionary processes of life in extreme environments. Through meticulous mapping efforts, KAUST scientists identified 45 vent fields spanning 1.6 square kilometers at Hatiba Mons, with all 14 directly observed fields actively venting. The relatively low temperatures of the vents, measured at 40 degrees Celsius, have contributed to the formation of iron-oxyhydroxide mounds hosting thriving microbial communities. The presence of macrofauna near the vents highlights the potential of these microbial communities to provide insights into the origins and adaptation of life in the deep sea.