Shallow-water hydrothermal vents

Diving on the shallow-water hydrothermal vents of Milos Island (Greece). Credit Costantino Vetriani (Rutgers University)

Shallow-water hydrothermal vents are widespread ecosystems that have been previously understudied compared to their deep-sea counterparts (Giovannelli et al., 2013), despite the fact that these systems were known long before the discovery of the deep-sea vents on the Galapagos Rift in 1977. Because of their proximity to the surface, shallow-water hydrothermal systems are influenced both by geothermally generated reducing power and by light, and can be described as “high energy” environments, where chemolithoautrotrophy and photoautotrophy co-occur.

In the past few years I’ve been working on several shallow-water hydrothermal vent site worldwide (check out the field site map) to investigate the complex interactions between the microbial communities, geochemistry and geodynamics of these complex ecosystems. Despite a recent surge of interest from the scientific community, a lot remain to be done (see Price and Giovannelli, 2017 for an up-to-date review on this subject).

Schematic of the hydrothermal processes at shallow-water hydrothermal vents and the additional dynamic drivers characteristic of their depth range distribution. (A) Low temperature water–rock reactions, (B) high temperature water–rock reactions, (C) magmatic volatile inputs, (D) phase separation, (E) continued water–rock reactions, and (F) degassing of dissolved volatiles, (G) terrigenous input of labile organic matter and phytodetritus, (H) wave action and storms, (I) penetration of light, and (J) tidal cycles. Illustration by Patricia Barcala Dominguez. Reproduced from Price and Giovannelli (2017)

Here is a list of resources on shallow-water hydrothermal vent extracted from Price and Giovannelli (2017), regularly updated on this site. Feel free to use the information found on this page in any way, provided you cite Price and Giovannelli (2017) (see bottom of the page).

Last update June 2017



D Giovannelli, G d’ Errico, E Manini, M Yakimov, C Vetriani. 2013. Diversity and Phylogenetic Analyses of Bacteria from a Shallow-Water Hydrothermal Vent in Milos Island (Greece). Frontiers in Microbiology 4: 184. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2013.00184

Price RE and Giovannelli D. (2017). A Review of the Geochemistry and Microbiology of Marine Shallow-water Hydrothermal Vents. Invited Article, Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, In Press. doi.:10.1016/B978-0-12-409548-9.09523-3