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ABYSS Definition & Meaning

what is abyss

Most of the fish species in this zone are characterized as demersal or benthopelagic fishes. Demersal fishes are a term that refers to fishes whose habitats are on or near (typically less than five meters from) the seafloor. Most fish species fit into that classification because the seafloor contains most of the abyssal zone’s nutrients; therefore, the most complex food web or greatest biomass would be in this region of the zone. Researchers have been collecting samples and studying the abyssal seafloor since the 1960s and have discovered a surprising diversity of life at these depths. Entire communities of animals and microbes adapted to the high-pressure environment thrive in the dark depths, relying on limited carbon input from land or whale falls.

British Dictionary definitions for abyss

The abyssal seafloor is also home to a variety of minerals valued by industry. Cobalt, nickel, aluminum, and manganese are used in items ranging from cars and wind turbines to phone and laptop batteries. Over millions of years, nodules containing relatively high concentrations of these minerals formed on the abyssal plain. Seamounts are often coated in cobalt-rich crusts, and seafloor vents may form mineral deposits rich in copper, zinc, lead, silver, and gold. A number of nations are currently exploring the possibility of mining these minerals from the seafloor. Remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) are also used to explore parts of the abyss.

The seas are coming for coastal homes. How will communities, and the state, respond?

what is abyss

This is essential information, since deep-sea mining would impact microbes as well as larger organisms, and harm to these microscopic communities could reverberate throughout our ocean systems. Researchers are currently interested in a wide variety of aspects of the abyss. Although trenches, ridges, and other geologic features have been studied, there is still much to learn about them.

Other definitions for Abyss. (2 of

what is abyss

Ridges are areas where new oceanic crust is formed by volcanic activity and two plates are moving apart. Sea mounts, individual underwater volcanoes, form when a magma from a hot spot in the mantle below pushes its way up through the crust. When these eruptions persist long enough, mounts https://cryptolisting.org/ continue to grow, extending beyond the abyss into shallower waters, even creating volcanic islands when they break the water’s surface. A new report addresses the impacts of ocean acidification in Massachusetts and New England coastal waters on the region’s vital seafood industry.

  1. Researchers have been collecting samples and studying the abyssal seafloor since the 1960s and have discovered a surprising diversity of life at these depths.
  2. Most of the fish species in this zone are characterized as demersal or benthopelagic fishes.
  3. The role of microbes in deep-ocean systems is also under investigation.
  4. When these eruptions persist long enough, mounts continue to grow, extending beyond the abyss into shallower waters, even creating volcanic islands when they break the water’s surface.
  5. These allow for real-time video and imagery, so pilots can see where the ROV is at any moment, which also allows them to direct the ROV to collect samples while at depth.

New federal funding to accelerate ocean-climate resilience

This is an essential upgrade that will facilitate new areas of research into the geology, chemistry, and biology of the abyssal zone. Due to the zone’s depth, increasing global temperatures do not affect it as quickly or drastically as the rest of the world, but the zone is still afflicted by ocean acidification. Plastics are especially bad for the abyssal zone due to the fact that these organisms have evolved to eat or try to eat anything that moves or appears to be detritus, resulting in organisms consuming plastics instead of nutrients.

They are typically tethered to and piloted from a ship via a fiber-optic cable which allows commands from the ship to reach the ROV and relays data and imagery to the pilots. These allow for real-time video and imagery, so pilots can see where the ROV is at any moment, which also allows them to direct the ROV to collect samples while at depth. Orpheus, with depth ratings of 11,000 meters (36,000 feet), can travel to the abyssal zone and below for complex science missions. These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘abyss.’ Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Former MIT-WHOI Joint Program student Rachel Jakuba explains how her passion for chemistry lead to a career in environmental science on Cape Cod.

Some gain energy from the chemicals released from mineral-rich, hydrothermal fluids venting at the seafloor. Despite the abyssal zone’s extreme depth and remote location, scientists are discovering that climate change is affecting communities, even at these levels. The role of microbes in deep-ocean systems is also under investigation. Microbes, including bacteria and Archaea, are capable of surviving at extreme pressures, temperatures, and in chemical environments that would be hostile to many organisms. Their ability to metabolize chemicals seeping from Earth’s interior is poorly understood but could lead to innovations on land. These microbes likely provide important ecosystem services to the deep ocean, and researchers are working to understand that role.

The bottom at these depths accounts for about one-third of the planet’s seafloor. The sheer size of this area, coupled with the challenges of descending to depths where water pressure can reach 600 atmospheres, makes exploration difficult—but by no means impossible. The seafloor itself consists of large plains broken by trenches, sea mounts, and oceanic ridges.

Both ocean acidification and pollution are decreasing the already small biomass that resides within the abyssal zone. At the moment, there are a limited number of vehicles capable of descending to the abyssal seafloor. These are robotic, pre-programmed submersibles equipped with sensors, probes, and imaging what is a reduced value systems that allow researchers to map and collect data in extreme underwater terrain, including trenches and volcano calderas. The abyssal zone or abyssopelagic zone is a layer of the pelagic zone of the ocean. The abyss is largely unexplored, but we know it contains animals found nowhere else on earth.

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