Hydrothermal vent spewing black smoke.
Hydrothermal vent spewing black smoke. Credit: George Luther, University of Delaware / NSF NDSF/ HOV Alvin / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab
Editors’ Highlights are summaries of recent papers by AGU’s journal editors.
Source: Geophysical Research Letters

A commentary by Luther [2021] reflects on a research article by Druffel et al. [2021] that recently discovered the age of organic carbon in the deep ocean to be older than 6000 years, and this old carbon is entering the deep sea from hydrothermal vents. The best explanation of hydrothermal venting of old carbon is the slow travel of ancient seawater (and anything dissolved in it, like organic carbon) through the ocean crust. Organic carbon that survived the harsh hydrothermal conditions is released back to the deep sea at hydrothermal vents, where it is likely very stable and resistant to any further breakdown.

Citation: Luther, G. W. [2021]. Hydrothermal vents are a source of old refractory organic carbon to the deep ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL094869. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GL094869

―Rose Cory, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters 

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