Black smokers are one type of hydrothermal vent in the ocean. They are chimney like structures on the floor of the ocean that shoot out clouds of scorching water (up to 700° Fahrenheit).

This phenomenon is cause by cracks in the Earth’s crust, which heat up ocean water below the ground. The hot water is then expelled through openings such as black smokers into the surrounding ocean. As the water cools, mineral within it solidify. Over time, these minerals build up to form the chimney-like structures of the black smoker (sometimes reaching over 100 feet in height). The black color of the chimney comes from the nature of the minerals, which are largely composed of iron sulfides.

Black smokers can host amazing biotic communities including organisms such as archaea, barnacles, and tubeworms. Scientists believe that hydrothermal vents may allow for similar ecosystems on Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN BLACK SMOKER

*Make sure to ask a parent’s permission and use a space you can get messy!

MATERIALS:

1 Bottle

1 tbsp. dish soap

1 tbsp. baking powder

Vinegar

Clay

Toilet paper

Rubber bands

STEP 1:

Cover the bottle in clay. If you want your black smoker to look realistic, use black clay to simulate the iron sulfide deposits of the black smoker chimney!

STEP 2:

Mix the dish soap and vinegar.

STEP 3:

Pour the mix into your bottle.

STEP 4:

Package the baking soda in toilet paper and wrap it together with rubber bands.

STEP 5:

Put in the backing soda and wait!

This tutorial was modified from wikihow. For this and other methods of building black smokers visit:

https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Volcano

Hydrothermal vents on Saturn and Jupiter’s moons:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/science/saturn-cassini-moon-enceladus.html
  2. https://www.nasa.gov/press/2015/march/spacecraft-data-suggest-saturn-moons-ocean-may-harbor-hydrothermal-activity/index.html

References:

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/vents.html

https://www.pbs.org/wnet/savageearth/hellscrust/html/sidebar2.html

Written By: Talia Niederman

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