animation Click HERE to see a simplified animation of seafloor spreading for this area over the past 20 million years.

In 1977, scientists made a stunning discovery on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean that forever changed our understanding of planet Earth and life on it.

They found seafloor vents gushing shimmering, warm, mineral-rich fluids into the cold, dark depths. And, to their complete surprise, they found that the vents were brimming with extraordinary, unexpected life.

The search for hydrothermal vents at the seafloor mobilized scientists, engineers, crews, ships, and equipment from many institutions worldwide. Intrigued by early clues, they followed a trail of discovery that led to a scientific revolution. With persistence and ingenuity, they overcame formidable barriers to accomplish a technical and scientific feat.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the historic discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents at the Galápagos Rift, we retell the astonishing and often dramatic story of how the vents and their spectacular animal communities were discovered—and how these discoveries have revolutionized scientific thinking.

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