Hydorthermal vents are locations where water circulates through the crust, and is heated by geothermal energy. Quite often this results in chemical changes that enrich the waters in reducing chemicals that organisms can oxidize to gain energy. Hydrothermally adapted microbes are capable of tolerating high temperatures, even exceeding the normal boiling point of water. Some evidence suggests that the last common ancestor of all life on Earth was a hydrothermal organism; undoubtedly these are fascinating biogeochemical systems.
We have studies carbon cycling and geochemistry of hydrothermal vents, focusing on two locations - the serpentinite-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field, and the outflows of terrestrial hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.