Shining a light on deep-sea vents: Science meets policy

A statement of commitment to responsible research practices in the deep sea will be unveiled by InterRidge, an international scientific collaboration, at a special session during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in St. Louis, Missouri, USA on the 19th of February. The statement, written by key members of InterRidge on behalf of its 27 member countries, publicly reaffirms the science community's long-standing commitment to responsible research and provides a guideline for NGOs (nongovernmental organizations), regulatory bodies, and researchers new to the field.

"Although the ocean is vast and the sea deep, human impacts now reach all corners of the planet, and we must understand what we are impacting as well as the possible consequences," said Chuck Fisher at Penn State, former chair of the US Ridge 2000 program, a vent biologist, and a co-author of the InterRidge statement of commitment.

The special session titled "The Latest Ocean Ridge Research: Microbes, Mining, Management and More," which is hosted by InterRidge, will bring journalists, policy-makers, other scientists, and the public up to speed on the latest -- and sometimes controversial -- topics related to ocean-ridge exploration. "These groups are looking to scientists to take the lead in establishing professional standards," said InterRidge chair Colin Devey, who will present the InterRidge statement. "We want to make a clear statement about why vent research is important, how the scientists are going about it, and what they are doing to learn as much about the planet as they can without harming it," Devey said.

Scientists first discovered undersea hot springs, known as hydrothermal vents, nearly 30 years ago. These vents, which are among the world's most extreme ecosystems, are found along the ocean ridge, 40,000 miles of underwater mountain range that zig-zags throughout the world's ocean basin. The vents spew super-hot, mi

Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
Penn State

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