Cold Seeps

Cold seeps are locations where hydrocarbon-rich fluid seeps up from below the sea floor, often as methane or hydrogen sulfide.  Cold seeps have been found to support significant chemosynthetic communities.

go exploring

Content Essays and NOAA Websites Related to Cold Seeps

Background essays are written by explorers involved in a specific expedition in order to provide further background on specific topic areas associated with the expedition. Mission logs are written by scientists and technicians during an expedition to share ocean exploration discoveries as they are happening. Below are selected essays and mission logs focused on cold seeps.

Exploration of Cold Seeps on the North Atlantic Continental Margin

The continental shelf and slope off the northeastern U.S., the underwater edge of the continent that borders the Atlantic Ocean basin, hosts an incredible diversity of habitats including approximately 70 submarine canyons. These canyons remain little explored but the topography, currents, and sedimentation in and around these submarine canyons support complex systems including chemosynthetic ecosystems in the form of cold seeps.

read

Communities and Gas Hydrates at Cold Seeps South of Nantucket

On July 11 and July 12, 2013, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and the Deep Discoverer (D2) remotely operated vehicle (ROV) targeted seafloor sites located about 165 kilometers south of the island of Nantucket. These dives were the first scientific explorations of newly discovered seeps.

read

Discovery of a New Deep Chemosynthetic Community

Explorers found at patch of live mussels, confirming the suspicions of the scientists on the Okeanos Explorer the previous year and found a brand new seep site, one of the very few known off the U.S. Atlantic coast at the time.

read essay

Baltimore cold seeps re-discovered!!

The Baltimore Canyon seep site covers a considerable area, and at 400-430 m it is also very shallow compared to the Blake Ridge (2000-3000 m depth) seep site. Unlike other methane seeps the Baltimore seep seems to have only mussels inhabiting the area.

read essay

Biodiversity of the Deep, Reducing and Chile Margins

At the Concepcion methane seep area, off Chile, the diverse habitats provided by the methane seep has resulted in incredibly high diversity, in part because it attracts animals from surrounding habitats. Early exploration of recently discovered seeps off Chile suggests the Chile margin represents an entirely novel biogeographic province — an area with almost all species new to science.

read essay

Methane in the Ocean

Methane is produced in two primary ways in the ocean, thermogenically and biogenically. Thermogenic methane is produced deep within the seafloor when organic material is degraded by the earth’s heat. Biogenic methane is produced as a waste product when microorganisms called methanogenic archaea eat organic material.

read essay

Windows to the Deep Expedition 2003: Cruise Summary

The overarching goal of the 2003 Windows to the Deep expedition was exploration of the Blake Ridge and Carolina Rise for new methane seeps and cold seep communities using an integrated biological, chemical, and geophysical approach.

read essay

Gas Hydrates Offshore Southeastern United States

This essay explains how gas hydrates form and discusses hydrates found at Blake Ridge and Carolina Rise off of South Carolina in 2003.

read essay

Chemosynthetic Communities in the Gulf of Mexico

Scientists find thriving chemosynthetic communities of tubeworms in the vicinity of cold hydrocarbon seeps in the Gulf of Mexico.

read essay

Cold-seep Tubeworms

Cold-seep tubeworms are big worms (sometimes as big as 10 feet long) that are found only in places in the deep sea of the Gulf of Mexico called cold seeps. These worms are closely related to other giant tubeworms found around deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

read essay

Lessons for Educators Related to Cold Seeps

This section provides direct access to selected lessons about cold seeps developed by scientists and educators during Ocean Explorer field seasons. These lessons are geared toward students in Grades 5-12. Presented here as Web-based education materials, each lesson corresponds with a specific ocean exploration and can be supplemented with daily logs prepared by scientists and educators during each mission at sea. Additional lessons on cold seeps can be found using the Lesson Plan search feature.

Watching in 3-D

Grades: 9-12

Focus
Multibeam sonar

Students will explain how multibeam sonar uses the properties of sound waves in water for scientific research about topography of the ocean floor. Students will analyze and interpret multibeam sonar data to identify patterns in the distribution of seafloor features that contribute to scientific research about large scale interactions in Earth’s systems. Students explore a seamount using free Fledermaus mapping software.

 

download pdf

 

Focus
Digital Atlas and Cold Seeps

To supplement the Watching in 3-D lesson, the following activities describe how geographical and mapping data marry with expedition website data and selected interactive Fledermaus scene files from key discoveries. The Digital Atlas can be used to obtain information about past NOAA Ocean Explorer expeditions, education resources associated with the expeditions, ship tracks, bathymetric maps, dive tracks, and more.

How to Use the Ocean Explorer Digital Atlas

 

download pdf

 

Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013: Cold Seeps

download pdf

Observando en 3D

Grados: 9-12

Foco
Sonar multihaz (Ciencias físicas/Ciencias de la Tierra)

Los estudiantes explican cómo el sonar multihaz utiliza las propiedades de las ondas sonoras en el agua para la investigación científica acerca de la topografía del fondo oceánico. Los estudiantes analizarán e interpretarán datos de sonar multihaz para identificar patrones en la distribución de las características del fondo marino, que contribuyen a la investigación científica acerca de las interacciones a gran escala en los sistemas de la Tierra.
Actividad práctica: manipulación y análisis de imágenes mapeadas con software gratis

descargar pdf

Animals of the Fire Ice

Grades: 5-6

Focus
Methane hydrate ice worms and hydrate shrimp

Students will define and describe methane hydrate ice worms and hydrate shrimp; infer how methane hydrate ice worms and hydrate shrimp obtain their food; and infer how methane hydrate ice worms and hydrate shrimp may interact with other species in the biological communities of which they are part. Activity includes building a methane hydrate model.

download pdf

Let's Make a Tubeworm

Grades: 5-6

Focus:
Unique species with a symbiotic relationship in cold-seep communities

Students will describe the process of chemosynthesis in general terms and describe the major features of cold seep communities; define mutualistic symbiosis and give two examples of symbiosis in cold seep communities; and be able to describe the anatomy of vestimentiferans and explain how these organisms obtain their food.

From the Learning Ocean Science through Ocean Exploration curriculum, Lesson 18, Pg 141.

download pdf

Strange Life

Grades: 7-8

Focus
Biological organisms in cold seep communities

Students will obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about flows and cycles of energy in cold-seep ecosystems; develop a model that describes some of the interdependent relationships in cold-seep ecosystems; and develop and use a model to explain states and changes between states of methane hydrates.

download pdf

What’s the Big Deal?

Grades: 9-12

Focus
Significance of methane hydrates

Students will define methane hydrates, describe where these substances are typically found, and explain how they are believed to be formed. Students will describe at least three ways in which methane hydrates could have a direct impact on their own lives and describe how additional knowledge of methane hydrates expected to be found during Ocean Exploration and Research expeditions could provide human benefits.

download pdf

¿Cuál es el problema?

Grados: 9-12

Foco
La importancia de los hidratos de metano (Las ciencias de la Tierra)

Los estudiantes definirán los hidratos de metano, describirán dónde se encuentran típicamente y explicarán cómo se forman. Los estudiantes describirán por lo menos tres maneras en que los hidratos de metano podrían tener un impacto directo en sus vidas. Los estudiantes describirán como el conocimiento adicional acerca de los hidratos de metano que esperamos obtener durante las expediciones oceánicas y expediciones de investigación, podría proporcionar beneficios para el ser humano.
Actividad práctica: construir un modelo de hidrato de metano

descragar pdf

This Old Tubeworm

Focus
Growth rate and age of species in cold-seep communities

Students will be able to explain the process of chemosynthesis and explain the relevance of chemosynthesis to biological communities in the vicinity of cold seeps.

Students will be able to construct a graphic interpretation of age-specific growth, given data on incremental growth rates of different-sized individuals of the same species and be able to estimate the age of an individual of a specific size .

download pdf

Videos, Images, and Multimedia

Multimedia Discovery Missions (MDM) are interactive multimedia presentations and learning activities that address topics ranging from Chemosynthesis and Hydrothermal Vent Life and Deep-sea Benthos to Food, Water and Medicine from the Sea. Each MDM includes a 7-9 minute animated Lesson, a 4-5 minute animation on Global Impacts, and three interactive activities.

Energy from the Oceans

launch

Chemosynthesis and Hydrothermal Vent Life

launch

Additional Multimedia Discovery Missions

launch

Below are links to a few selected videos and images of cold-seeps and their associated habitats from previous Ocean Explorer expeditions.

Past Ocean Exploration Expeditions Related to Cold Seeps

OceanAGE Careers Connections

The Ocean Careers to Inspire Another Generation of Explorers, or OceanAGE Careers webpage, invites students to learn about the talented people who explore our ocean planet. From underwater pilots to research scientists, these marine explorers provide students with first-hand knowledge of exciting careers through videotaped interviews and written profiles. Here is one explorer who studies cold seeps.

Dr. Tim Shank
Associate Scientist

Explorers in Training

Meet NOAA's newest ocean explorers, who have trained on the Okeanos Explorer.

The above items are only a selection of cold seeps content on our website.

view all cold seeps content