Nature Journal Publication by BCSS Chief Scientist Dr. Mario Lebrato

November 28, 2019 | Zoe Whittall

We are very proud to see BCSS Director & Chief Scientist Dr. Mario Lebrato’s article on hydrothermal vents published in Nature group journal - one of the most cited scientific publications globally.

The article, ‘Earthquake and Typhoon Trigger Unprecedented Transient Shifts in Shallow Hydrothermal Vents Biogeochemistry’, explores the environmental, ecological and chemical effects caused by the disturbance following earthquakes and typhoons around shallow hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor, with a focus on Turtle Island, an island off Taiwan. These vents are believed to be areas where the first forms of life evolved on Earth, and they offer a natural laboratory scenario to study environmental issues.

Aerial view of Kueishantao Island off the East coast of Taiwan. (Drone photography by Mario Lebrato).

The multidisciplinary study, which spanned ten years, is based on data collected while diving, via drone footage, through hydrographic surveys and marine biochemistry. The vent sites provide natural laboratories, as only a very few specialized species, such as crabs and snails, can survive in the acidic atmosphere. During the study, in 2016, the island was hit by both a typhoon and earthquake within just a few weeks of each other, which further enhanced this already unique environment of research. Take a look at the article to find out about the results of the study.

Underwater view of bubbling volcanic gases rich in carbon dioxide and sulfur compounds causing acidification of surrounding seawater. (Underwater photography by Mario Lebrato)

For more information, check out this summary video of the time-series and the disturbance events:

Cover photo depicts an aerial view of the acidic hot vents in shallow waters leading to discoloration of surface waters from sulfur. (Drone photography by Mario Lebrato).