A black smoker is a type of hydrothermal vent typically found on the sea floor. These vents are often referred to as underwater geysers. Black smokers can get up to 180 feet tall, and they are also considered to have the highest temperature of the hydrothermal vents. The plumes of burning hot water contain multiple kinds of minerals.  Black smokers are given the name because when the molten hot magma heats up the water and pushes it up through the vent. The average temperature of the heated water hovers around 750 °F.  When the sulfide from the molten hot lava hits the colder sea water, it turns the water leaving the vents black.
Black smokers are found along the mid-ocean ridges. The two main locations for the mid-ocean ridges are the East Pacific Rise and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The reason that black smokers are typically found in these areas is due to the fact that these areas are where the tectonic plates meet. The first black smoker was found in 1979 along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.  The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is located about halfway between the Americas and Europe and Africa. It is formed from where two main tectonics plates meet forming a ridge. Black smokers tend to be at depths of an average of 2100 meters. The key to black smokers is that they tend to appear in clusters. When they discovered the first black smoker, they also discovered the first cluster containing 6 chimneys 12 to 14 meters high. 
Types of organisms
Black smokers contain a whole entirely different ecosystem of organisms that we never knew about. Organisms found near black smokers are those such as 3-foot-long tubeworms, shrimps, crab, and anemone. The biggest discovery of these vents was that these organisms get their energy from the planet and not from a star.  Being that the area is so dark, there is not any light for the tubeworms to draw its energy from. The way that the tubeworms draw their energy is similar to that of how a plant gets its energy from photosynthesis. The only difference between the way the tubeworm gets energy and photosynthesis is that the tubeworm gives off sulfur instead of oxygen as a bi product.
Right now the ecosystems in the areas surrounding the Black smokers are in danger. Companies are mining in the surrounding areas near the black smokers. They are mining sulphide from the deposits located in the surrounding areas. This mining could contaminate and smother the areas surrounding the black smokers. Another reason why companies are mining in these areas is that there may be signs of high-grade copper and gold near the hydrothermal vents. Any sort of mining in these areas not only puts the vents in danger, but also the ecosystems where the deep sea organisms live.  Main scientists believe that these vent's may be a key to the origin of life, and that's why they want to protect the environments.
Other closely related articles in this wiki include:
- US Department of Commerce, N. O. and A. A. (n.d.). What is a hydrothermal vent? Retrieved February 4, 2016, from http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/vents.html
- Society, N. G., & Society, N. G. (2013, March 21). Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vents. Retrieved February 4, 2016, from http://education.nationalgeographic.org/media/deep-sea-hydrothermal-vents/
- Rachel Haymon. (n.d.). NOAA Ocean Explorer: GalAPAGoS: Where Ridge Meets Hotspot: Logs. Retrieved February 4, 2016, from http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/05galapagos/logs/dec14/dec14.html
- Black Smokers. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/destination-wild/videos/black-smokers/
- Life as We Didn’t Know It - NASA Science. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast13apr_1/
- Toronto, U. of. (n.d.). Deep-sea Mining May Pose Serious Threat To Fragile Marine Ecosystems, According To Study. Retrieved March 1, 2016, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070517142603.htm
Relevant online sources to this wiki article include:
- The home page of Penn State Brandywine, the home of the EARTH 100 wiki article writers!
- Extremophile - Encyclopedia of Earth article.
- The NOAA page for Hydrothermal Vents. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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