A never-before-seen phenomenon has been discovered at the bottom of the ocean off the coast of Oregon.
Researchers have named it Pythia’s Oasis after an ancient Greek priestess.
The phenomenon involves holes spewing warm fluids from the boundary between tectonic plates.
The discovery could potentially provide insight into earthquake risk along the dangerous fault of the Cascadia subduction zone.
This zone stretches from Vancouver Island to northern California and has the capacity to produce earthquakes of magnitude 9 or more.
The vents are located off the coast of Newport, Oregon, 3,412 feet below the ocean surface.
The fluids are bubbling from deep within the fault and originate from about 2.5 miles deep near where the plates meet.
The vents could influence how the plates interact, which could ultimately affect how and when earthquakes occur in the region.
The fluids are 16 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding seawater and rich in minerals such as boron and lithium.
The fluids are coming from the crust that was last on the surface 2 million years ago.
The plumbing underlying the newly discovered vents is still largely unknown.
It remains uncertain how the fluids affect the behavior of the fault.
More work will be needed to understand if or how these fluids affect earthquake risk in the Pacific Northwest.
Source Live Science