It could be a landscape in a strange world. Strange optical effects and dazzling mineral formations bloom at the edge of the water so hot that it would be steam if it were not for the pressure of all that deep ocean on it.
Researchers aboard the research vessel Falkor of the Schmidt Ocean Institute recently captured some startling snapshots of a hydrothermal duct field about two kilometers (approximately 1.2 miles) below the surface of the Gulf of California.
The ecosystems surrounding the bleeding cracks in the Gulf floor have recently attracted the attention of everyone, both for their curious ways of life and for their amazing geology.
These enormous volcanic chimneys of 23 meters of height (75 feet) are another example more of a hidden part of the planet that we are just beginning to understand.
"We discovered remarkable towers where every surface was occupied by some kind of life," says marine scientist Mandy Joye of the University of Georgia.
"The vibrant color found in the 'living rocks' was surprising, and reflects a diversity in biological composition as well as mineral distributions."
(Schmidt Ocean Institute)
Corrugated shelves of mineral dyed in bright tones; life is not fed by sunlight but by the filtration of liquid that flows from below; glistening fluids that gather beneath shelves of rock, refracting the light like silver mirrors.
Take a moment to fall in love with the view. Because there is a sad note in this story.
"Unfortunately, even in these remote and beautiful environments, we saw large amounts of garbage, including fishing nets, deflated Mylar balloons and even discarded Christmas trees," says Joye.
Because of course they did. Even in the cold and crushing shadows of a world without sun, there are signs of our waste.
For more photos of this beautiful world, click here.