Hydrothermal vents on the sea floor are always a source of interest for scientists, but this particular vent is part of a group that provides researchers real-time experiments.
The vents are located nine degrees north of the equator along a mid-ocean ridge called the East Pacific Rise
. Like most hydrothermal vents, the 9 degrees N group spews warm, mineral-rich waters into the ocean, attracting tons of bizarre creatures. But in 1991 and again in 1995, a nearby underwater volcanic eruption rocked the vents, wiping out all life. The events allowed scientists to observe how the area repopulates after such a disruption.
For example, researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution discovered
after the last eruption that a species of sea snail called Ctenopelta porifera traveled from more than 300 miles away to be a pioneering species at the newly remodeled vent.