The Target: Hydrothermal Vents
• Dr. Ballard believes that all life possibly began deep in the ocean, where “chimneys” in water are superheated by magma, and diverse chemicals mix together.
• Gaps in the crust of the earth where plates separate are likely sites.
• Life forms, from bacteria, to crabs, snails, and clams, cluster around these warm, nutrient-rich sites in inhospitable parts of the sea.
• Mid-ocean ridges, where continental plates spread, volcanoes erupt, and mountains rise thousands of metres below the water, are homes of some “chimneys”.
The Journey: to the Mid-Ocean Ridges
• Dr. Ballard is coordinating global research in search of chimneys and the primitive life they support.
• British, Irish, and Icelandic research crews scour the sea floor and discover chimneys in diverse and unforgiving waters near Iceland, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos Islands.
• State of the art technology needed to map and image thousands of metres below the sea.
• Exploration culminates when Dr. Ballard visits the Island of Surtsey, in Iceland.
• Surtsey Island: In 1963, magma broke through the surface of ocean. Since then, the island has increased in size and shifted from a moon-like rock to a greening place with a budding ecosystem.
• Places like Surtsey tell the story of life.
• Violent forces and volcanic activity have constructed our world.
• Violent as these forces are, they’ve left open the window for an even greater miracle: life.