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Scientists Search The Grand Hydrothermal Vents On The Ocean Floor Using Virtual Reality, Video

First Posted: Jun 02, 2016 09:25 AM EDT

Scientists and engineers have spent over 150 hours nearby an undersea volcano near the Pacific Island on onboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute's research vessel Falkor. They used virtual reality to dive in this remote underwater world.

The researchers created a three-dimensional map of a black smoker vent, which is a type of hydrothermal vent under the ocean's surface. According to Smithsonian, the hydrothermal vents are shaped in the volcanically active regions of the ocean. The water slithers between cracks in the crust and comes into contact with the heat churning below. Then, the superheated water melts some of the metals from the neighboring rocks before it's evicted out in black clouds like a fountain from the seafloor.

The temperatures at hydrothermal vents reach up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. The environment is in total darkness too. The weight of the superimposing water could squash an unprotected human body. The team of researchers with the ROV or the remotely operated vehicle explored about three-quarters of a mile under. The pressure is really immense. On the other hand, the ROV can withstand the vent's condition.

Their vehicle is called the Remotely Operated Platform for Ocean Sciences (ROPOS) is large as the Jeep Wrangler and weighs about 3.5 tons. It makes use of high-definition cameras for video and still imagery. This includes the 4K camera that creates the cinema-quality video, underwater lights and stereo cameras that take images for 3D viewing.

The researchers captured photographs and video of an area that is about 74 football fields to produce a 3D map for three days. With this data, they could then select the best localities to capture samples that reflect the varied rock types and the marine life that streams on the vent's surface.

You can watch the video below to view the breathtaking hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. Tom Kwasnitschka, the lead scientist of the project and a deep-ocean researcher at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany said that this type of knowledge is only ever as good as the science you get out of it. He further said that he thinks that's significant to remember. They don't go there for YouTube but they go down there for science.

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