What is hidden 4,000 meters below Arctic sea ice? Maybe it’s like the bottom of Europa.

Beijing time on March 4, according tomedia reports, the Arctic ice 4000 meters below what is hidden? It’s a mysterious world, with underwater volcanoes, and some creatures beyond imagination… The Arctic deep-sea hydrothermal vents were first discovered in 1979, and they are like pipes protruding from the seabed, spraying “hot fog”, which is actually a hot liquid rich in minerals.

What is hidden 4,000 meters below Arctic sea ice? Maybe it's like the bottom of Europa.

  1. In some places, life tries to find a foothold in the otherwise barren land. A mysterious world is hidden 4,000 meters below Arctic sea ice.

In the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, there are many undersea hydrothermal vents, also known as “submarine chimneys”, which are surrounded by unique ecosystems with clams, blind shrimps, bearded seabugs and extreme microorganisms. Life here cannot get energy from the sun, but only from the earth’s interior. Microbes use compounds produced by hydrothermal vents as a source of energy to make organic matter, just as plants and algae absorb solar photons, and larger animals develop a symbiotic relationship with these microorganisms.

However, no one has studied the Arctic biota before, and it is not known which organisms live in the cold waters of 4,000 metres below the Arctic sea ice.

“We wanted to see if the ecosystem developed independently, whether it was very different from other hydrothermal vents, or if they were interconnected,” said Eva Ramirez-Llodra, a marine biologist at the Norwegian Water Research Institute. “

Eva was on an 82-degree north-latitude expedition with an international team of researchers, which they hoped would find the “Euola” region, an underwater volcanic region where hydrothermal vents emit “black smoke.”

What is hidden 4,000 meters below Arctic sea ice? Maybe it's like the bottom of Europa.

  2, Avatar Alliance Foundation photographer Lou Lamar tests his wetsuit in front of the icebreaker Kronpris Haakon. The site is located in the “Euola” undersea volcanic region, more than 4000 meters from the surface sea ice.

Mysterious hydrothermal vents

On September 19, 2019, researchers were allowed to use the norwegian icebreaker Karen Prince-Haken from Longybin in the Arctic Svalbard, with representatives of 11 international agencies on board. Their analysis of seawater chemistry showed that they found hydrothermal vents in the Gakkel Ridge, under the sea floor.

In 2014, scientists at the Alfred Wegner Institute struggled to find these undersea craters, and on the last day of their expedition they finally found hydrothermal vents, said researcher Ramirez-Llodra, who floated through a hydrothermal chimney and filmed a one-minute video. This lets us know the exact location of the hydrothermal vent.

What is hidden 4,000 meters below Arctic sea ice? Maybe it's like the bottom of Europa.

  3, on the right side of the photo is an undersea black smoke vent, the vent is surrounded by a gleaming “golden” substance, white dot is rich in mineral environment gathered in the biota.

A team of researchers has now visited the region again, with plans to take videos and take samples of deep-sea life, led by the Norwegian University of the Arctic and led by Rodla, the project manager.

“It’s hard to plan our daily schedule because our work is completely affected by sea ice, the Arctic sea ice is not calm, it breaks down, freezes, and the thickness changes, which makes it difficult to reach the area that needs to be surveyed, ” Rodera said. “

On October 3, 2019, they finally reached an ideal location, each with their eyes fixed on the control room screen, and the atmosphere was tense, the researchers wrote in the voyage’s blog post: “When’ The first time the chimney struck, we burst into cheers and hugs, a huge black hydrothermal vent, and then the researchers found two more. We can see that we are approaching the craters of the underwater volcanoes, as the sediments on the seafloor become rougher, mixed with different colored particles of stone. “

We were very close to the hydrothermal vent squirt at one point when the researchers pulled the underwater camera into an underwater mound and suddenly saw black smoke billowing from the cracked volcanic vents. This is not real smoke, but about 350 degrees Celsius of high temperature liquid, the camera directly aimed at shooting, the high temperature liquid release speed too fast, soon the sea floor turned black, we are very worried that the camera was burned, fortunately, a few minutes later we managed to capture the photo and send back, this is our first close contact with the black hydrothermal vent.

What is hidden 4,000 meters below Arctic sea ice? Maybe it's like the bottom of Europa.

4. These four images show a typical biota in the “Orora” undersea volcanic region, and the first shows a huge crater.

Golden seafloor and glass sponge

The scientists found that the area of the seafloor near the hydrothermal vents was golden and sparkling like gold, and that although there were traces of gold and silver elements in the liquid released from the craters, the subsea material the researchers saw was not gold, but sulphates deposited by black smoke. In addition, there are a large number of white organisms around the hydrothermal vents that sparkle when they reflect the light emitted by the camera.

The area near the bottom of the sea is covered with a thick layer of fine-grained sediment with white sponges, blind shrimp swimming on the sea floor, sea cucumbers and anemones, and occasionally fish swimming. The main creatures in the region are glass sponges, which are very rare and can reach a diameter of up to 1 meter and can survive for hundreds of years. The main component of sponges is silicon, only a small part of organic matter, it can be said that they have little vitality.

What is hidden 4,000 meters below Arctic sea ice? Maybe it's like the bottom of Europa.

  5. Glass sponges and shrimps in the picture do not depend on craters, but thrive in the depths of the cold, and researchers aren’t sure what species they are.

A different underwater world

The researchers did not find biodiversity around other ocean hydrothermal vents, rodla said. “

The hot vents of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are surrounded by colorful bearded sea bugs, clams and crabs, which have apparently adapted to the special surroundings around hydrothermal vents. “Most of them are chemically synthesized to achieve a symbiotic relationship between bacteria and microorganisms, bacteria can survive in certain organisms or in special organs, some organisms do not even have an oral or digestive system, but rely on the substances produced by the body as a source of nutrition,” Rodra said. “

Researchers do not yet know whether there is a similar relationship between microbes near the “Euola” region, and Rodera said we must first thoroughly analyze the deep-sea video. They took a large number of samples from the creatures on the ridge steam under the sea, but technical problems made it difficult to sample near the hydrothermal vents, and a survey team was currently needed to collect animal and microbial samples living near hydrothermal vents.

What is hidden 4,000 meters below Arctic sea ice? Maybe it's like the bottom of Europa.

6, this photo shows anemones living deep under the sea, living 3,500 meters below the surface.

Arctic deep-sea living conditions are similar to those of cold satellites

Dimitri Kalennitchenko, a microbiologist at the University of the Arctic in Norway, and Kevin Peter Hand, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, conducted a special experiment on the Arctic ice to try to find that An important clue to the hidden life beneath the sea ice of Titan.

NASA plans to launch a spacecraft to search the surface of Ganymede for signs of life, and both Ganymede and Titan are currently covered in thick ice, but there may be seawater beneath the ice, and hydrothermal activity on the sea floor.

In other words, the potential life forms of these satellites are likely to be very similar to those of deep-sea life in the Arctic, and how many organisms can be found under the sea ice of Ganymede or Titan by a spacecraft?

The researchers collected ice samples from the “Euola” region and were looking to see if evidence of craters on the sea floor could be found 4,000 meters below the seafloor. “We’re trying to see how many new discoveries can be made beneath the sea ice, ” Karenisenko said. “

He will look for extreme microbes in ice samples collected by the expedition, typical hydrothermal vent creatures that grow in high temperatures. They believe that these extreme microbes may somehow reach the surface of the sea ice, and they may also be trapped in the sea ice in hibernation.

“The big question is whether these microbes are present in Arctic sea ice or are they not wanted to be found,” Karennenko said. “He hopes to get the answer by 2021.

An in-depth survey will be conducted in the future.

Further research by the researchers on video and sample collection will reveal more about the previously unknown Gacol Ridge environment, and Rodera said they will continue to conduct new surveys and explorations to collect samples in environments closer to hydrothermal vents.

Both Rodra and Karennenko agreed that the Arctic expedition was worthwhile, and although the voyage encountered some difficulties in not collecting samples from near the hydrothermal vents, all of them were enthusiastic and fully engaged in the seabed survey. (Ye Ding Cheng)