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. Our past work has focused on the serpentinite-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field, and the outflows of terrestrial hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. Current and future work will examine other sites, such as the carbonate chimneys of the Pescadero Basin