Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 60: Nov-Dec 1988

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Mystery Glow On The Sea Floor

"Marine scientists have discovered two thermal vents on the seabed that glow in the dark. A group of researchers, led by oceanographers from the University of Washington, detected faint light during an expedition to the Juan de Fuca Ridge. The ridge and the vents, 300 km off the coast of British Columbia, follow an underwater fault formed by the junction of the Juan de Fuca and the Pacific tectonic plates...John Delaney, leader of the expedition, described the glow as a 'flame-like light' that seems to emanate from the super-heated water emerging from the thermal vents, 2200 meters below the surface...'The source of the light is still unclear,' said Joe Cann, a geologist from the University of Newcastle in Britain. The scientists suspect that the water itself is glowing."

The water temperature is so high -- 350C -- that bioluminescence is unlikely. The presence of the glow does, however, imply that photosynthesis is still possible in these sunless depths. Life forms do congregate around these vents. A curious shrimp found in the area where the glow was noted is eyeless but does possess photoreceptors on its back!

(Dayton, Sylvia; "The Underwater Light Fantastic," New Scientist, p. 32, August 25, 1988. Also: Anonymous; "Mystery Glow Emanates from Ocean Bottom," Albuquerque Tribune, August 18, 1988. Cr. D. Eccles.)

From Science Frontiers #60, NOV-DEC 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987