The recognition of abundant and widespread hydrothermal activity and associated unique life-forms on the ocean floor is one of the great scientific discoveries of the latter half of the twentieth century. Studies of seafloor hydrothermal processes have led to revolutions in understanding fluid convection and the cooling of the ocean crust, the chemical and isotopic mass balance of the oceans, the origin of stratiform and statabound massive-sulfide ore-deposits, the origin of greenstones and serpentinites, and the potential importance of the subseafloor biosphere. Stable isotope geochemistry has been a critical and definitive tool from the very beginning of the modern era...

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