Deep seafloor hydrothermal vent communities buried by volcanic ash from the 2022 Hunga eruption

Deep seafloor hydrothermal vent communities buried by volcanic ash from the 2022 Hunga eruption

Beinart RA, Arellano SM, Chaknova M, Meagher J, Davies AJ, Lopresti J, Cowell EJ, Betters M, Ladd TM, Plowman CQ, Rice LN, Davis D, Heffernan M, Jimenez V, Beaver T, Becker J, Bergen S, Brunner L, Calhoun A, Hauer M, Taradash A, Giachetti T, Young CM

Mass mortality of marine animals due to volcanic ash deposition is present in the fossil record buthas rarely been documented in real time. Here, using remotely-operated vehicle video footageand analysis of ash collected at the seafloor, we describe the devastating effect of the record-breaking 2022 Hunga submarine volcanic eruption on endangered and vulnerable snail andmussel species that previously thrived at nearby deep-sea hydrothermal vents. In contrast tograzing, scavenging,filter-feeding, and predatory vent taxa, we observed mass mortality, likelydue to smothering during burial by thick ash deposits, of the foundation species, which rely onsymbiotic chemosynthetic bacteria for the bulk of their nutrition. This is important for our broadunderstanding of the natural disturbance of marine ecosystems by volcanic eruptions and forpredicting the effects of anthropogenic disturbance, like deep-sea mining, on these uniqueseafloor habitats.

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Full Citation

Beinart RA, Arellano SM, Chaknova M, Meagher J, Davies AJ, Lopresti J, Cowell EJ, Betters M, Ladd TM, Plowman CQ, Rice LN, Davis D, Heffernan M, Jimenez V, Beaver T, Becker J, Bergen S, Brunner L, Calhoun A, Hauer M, Taradash A, Giachetti T, Young CM (2024) Deep seafloor hydrothermal vent communities buried by volcanic ash from the 2022 Hunga eruption. Communications Earth & Environment 5: 254

Manuscript DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-024-01411-w