Black smoker at a mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal vent in the Atlantic Ocean.
Image: P. Rona
Source: National Undersea Research Program (NURP), NOAA
Showcase featuring Black Smoker in the Dynamic Earth exhibition
Image: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
In some volcanically active regions, hot metal-rich springs bubble up from the ocean floor. As the hot water mixes with cold ocean water, metal sulfides crystallise out. These sulfides form chimneys known as ‘black smokers’. Many ore bodies began as metal-rich deposits like this.
The black smoker on display in Dynamic Earth is the largest ever collected. It was dredged from the seafloor, 2000 metres deep, in the Bismarck Sea off Papua New Guinea by a CSIRO expedition. Scientists have found many new species of fish, giant clams, crabs and worms living in the warm water around black smokers.