New Zealand's Black Smoker Discovery

New Zealand's Black Smoker Discovery

 Scientists have used a remotely-operated submarine that helped discover the wreck of the Titanic to peer inside a massive underwater volcano north-east of New Zealand.

Using a remotely operated vehicle equipped with a high-definition video camera and an array of scientific measuring equipment, the international team observed copper-rich veins in the inner crater walls of Brothers volcano in the Kermadec arc at a depth of 1550m.

"This confirms that the veins in the rocks mark the route fluids and dissolved metals travelled through the volcano to the seafloor to form the hundreds of metal-rich chimneys that grow up from the various ledges on the walls, said voyage co-leader Dr Cornel de Ronde, of GNS Science.

"This would have occurred decades or perhaps hundreds of years ago before the veins were exposed by faulting."

The observations were made during a 21-day US-New Zealand mission on the US research ship R/V Thompson at the volcano, which lies about 400km northeast of White Island in the Kermadec Arc.

This was the most hydrothermally active undersea volcano system on Earth and it harboured extreme environments where unusual life forms thrived.