Anthropogenic Threats

Perhaps the most direct anthropogenic-threat to hydrothermal vent ecosystems currently, is that of the possible effects surrounding deep-sea mining for minerals (metal-sulphides); and the effects of this on vent-communities (Van Dover 2010). Abundant and ‘rich metal-ores’ are situated in many sulphide-deposits produced by hydrothermal vent-systems in the deep-sea, particularly in the SW Pacific region (Van Dover 2010).

Since the discovery of hydrothermal vents and their associated fauna, much effort has been put into improving the knowledge of their biological functioning; however, conservation of such areas in an area of lesser-study (Van Dover 2010).

Extractive-mining methods of removing metal-sulphides, are very destructive and remove ‘all colonised habitats’ of the vent chimney (Van Dover 2010). While it could be argued that many vent-species are well adapted to disturbances in their environment, and therefore may withstand the degradation of their immediate-habitat (Tunnicliffe et al. 1997; Van Dover 2010), the effects of natural disturbances will continue regardless of mining activities, and the potential impact of both of these habitat-disturbing processes combined is uncertain. Effects could potentially impact not only the diversity and abundance of a given site, but may also impact larval-dispersal of species and potentially have detrimental effects to many species as a whole (Tunnicliffe et al. 1997; Van Dover 2010).

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