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Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology

KIOST discovers deep-sea hydrothermal vent in the Indian Ocean

  • HITS : 3838
  • Date : 2018-07-27

The Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST, President Kim Woong-seo) has announced its discovery of a deep-sea hydrothermal vent1) in the mid-Indian Ridge and collected numerous samples of organisms living in the extreme conditions of the surrounding area. Funded by the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, this research and exploration project was conducted by the marine research and survey vessel RV Isabu from May to June, giving Korea the honor of becoming the fourth country in the world to discover a hydrothermal vent in the international waters of the Indian Ocean, following Japan, the United States, and China.
1) Hydrothermal vent: As geothermally heated water pushes up from the deep ocean floor, the metal ions in the warm water accumulate as sediment around the vent after coming into contact with the cold water, creating the appearance of an underwater volcano (Reference 1).


Led by principal researchers Song Seung Kyu and Kim Dongsung, KIOST’s research teams began conducting a survey in the international waters of the Indian Ocean using RV Isabu in 2017. In May 2018, they discovered a new area with a hydrothermal vent, and in June, they succeeded in collecting samples of hydrothermal organisms2) and environmental data in the same area.

The various research data on organisms gained from this exploration project are being used to study the mechanism by which the water coming out of the hydrothermal vent is heated, the circulation of materials deep underground, and functions and structure of the extreme ecosystem created by the hot water. The data will also be used to develop domestic technologies designed to make use of biodiversity and genetic resources.

2) Hydrothermal organisms: Organisms that inhabit the areas around hydrothermal vents. Unlike the photosynthetic ecosystem, hydrothermal organisms live in an ecosystem that is maintained through chemosynthesis called the chemosynthetic-based ecosystem and acquire necessary food through symbiosis with bacteria.


President Kim Woong-seo remarked, “The discovery of a hydrothermal vent is a significant achievement that attests to the incredible precision of KIOST’s deep-sea survey.” He went on to add, “In 2019, we hope to use RV Isabu and unmanned undersea vehicles to survey the Indian Ocean, further enhancing our ability to conduct high-precision surveys in the extreme conditions of the deep sea and lay the foundation for KIOST to become a leader in deep-sea hydrothermal vent research.”


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Last Update : 2020-03-07