Fool’s Gold from Hydrothermal Vents to Plankton

A nice little paper in Nature Geoscience that helps reconcile iron budgets for the word’s oceans.  The hot, mineral rich water that spews from hydrothermal vents contains a significant amount of fool’s gold, or iron pyrite.  Because iron pyrite is more resistant to rusting than basic iron and much of the iron pyrite venting is nanoparticles, they are though to disperse great distances before sinking and dissolving.  What makes this finding more important is that iron is often a limiting factor for phytoplankton growth in the oceans.  Thus, hydrothermal vents may an indirect but major role in carbon production in the world’s oceans.

Dr. M (1618 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.