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Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vent Explorations

Table of Contents

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Unit 1: Plate Tectonics

   1. Reunite Pangaea
Students examine 10 pieces of evidence for the theory of plate tectonics and then use these as guides in cutting apart a modern map and reconstructing the super-continent of Pangaea.

   2. Slippin’ and Slidin’ – Plate Tectonics
A student reading with embedded questions summarizes the evidence supporting the theory of crustal plate movement.

   3. The Ocean Floor
This reading describes some of the technology oceanographers use to map the ocean bottom and outlines major ocean floor features.

   4. Packages: 3-D Earth Model
Students create a three-dimensional cross-section of the earth’s crust.

   5. Ocean Floor Features
Students locate on a map a wide range of sea floor structures and then identify the geological activity that created each structure.

Unit 2: Hydrothermal Vents

Section One: What Are Hydrothermal Vents?

   6. Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vent Slide Show
A slide show prepared by Veronique Robigou from the University of Washington provides students with hydrothermal vent images.

   7. Creating Hydrothermal Vent Chimneys
Students supersaturate a solution and observe the precipitate that forms, a process analogous to the formation of vent chimneys.

Alternative lab: Hydrothermal Vent Formation
The creation of hydrothermal vent chimneys is simulated by precipitation of salt from a saturated solution.

   8. Hot Water – Hydrothermal Vent Plumes and Fluid Dynamics Analysis
This demonstration shows how the temperature gradient at a vent creates a plume that rises and disperses. Students apply this and previous lab work to an analysis of how fluids flow through a vent system.

Section Two: Navigation And Engineering- How Scientists Get To Hydrothermal Vents

   9. Navigating Deep Sea Vents – Alvin Dive Log, Part 1
Students use map reading skills and calculations from transponder data to navigate on paper around a hydrothermal vent field.

   10. Deep Sea Dive Simulation – Alvin Dive Log, Part 2
Students continue navigating around a hydrothermal vent field, but this time they simulate a dive in simple classroom models of ALVIN.

Section Three: Hydrothermal Vent Organisms

   11. Hydrothermal Vent Biology
Students try their hand at the same process scientists are going through as they observe vent organisms and try to infer their identity and natural history.

   12. Hydrothermal Vent Food Webs
Students assemble a hydrothermal vent food web, connecting chemosynthetic bacteria and other vent organisms.

   13. Symbiosis in the Deep Sea – Three-Level Guide
This journal article introduces students to the chemosynthesis-based food webs of the deep sea hydrothermal vents.

   14. The Mating Game
Students play a hydrothermal vent game based on the TV show “Dating Game”.

Production Credits

Below, you’ll find helpful resources for use with the above activities.

Activity 1 Reunite Pangaea
Tsunami article

Activity 4 Slippin’ and Slidin’ – Plate Tectonics
Make your own Earth and tectonic globes instructions
Make your own Earth globe
Great-Circle indicator
Make your own tectonic globe
Seafloor spreading model
Seafloor spreading model animation
Ocean trenches model

Activity 3 The Ocean Floor
Make your own Earth and tectonic globes instructions
Make your own Earth globe
Great-Circle indicator
Make your own tectonic globe

Activity 4 Ocean Floor Features
Ocean floor features diagrams
North Atlantic Bathymetric map
World Bathymetric map
Atlantic Bathymetric map
Island Bathymetric map
Volcano model

Activity 7 Hydrothermal Vent Formation
Deep sea research images
Vents and the Salty Sea article
Deep sea chimneys
Deep-sea drilling
Vent life

Activity 11 Hydrothermal Vent Biology
Tube worm and clam images
Sulfide worm and plume worm images
Spider crab and fish images
Sea spider and limpet images
Mussel and snail images
Mat bacteria and plume bacteria images
Fossil model

Activity 12 Hydrothermal Vent Food Webs
Deep-sea exploration
Vents article
Vent chimneys
Vent exploration
Sea floor exploration

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