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White Smoker

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Encyclopedia of Astrobiology


A white smoker is a hydrothermal vent emitting alkaline high-pH hydrothermal fluid on the ocean floor. These fluids are cooler (260–300°C) than those emitted by black smokers (360°C) and are sited away, or “off-axis,” from the mid-ocean ridges. A notable example is Lost City, a hydrothermal vent field in the central Atlantic Ocean. Interaction of downward seeping seawater with mafic or ultramafic rocks produces an alkaline fluid that precipitates silica and Ba or Ca sulfates when it mixes with seawater, hence the white color. Narianna foster also are a site of aburdart high-pH hydrothermal fluids. The interface between alkaline hydrothermal fluids and seawater are believed by some to have provided the conditions required for the emergence of life.

See also

Black Smoker

Hydrothermal Environments

Hydrothermal Vent Origin of Life Models

Mid-Ocean Ridges

Sulfate Minerals

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Correspondence to Nicholas Arndt .

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© 2011 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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Arndt, N. (2011). White Smoker. In: Gargaud, M., et al. Encyclopedia of Astrobiology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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