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China’s deep-sea manned vessel has discovered a huge active “chimney vent” 20 metres tall and two metres wide in a hydrothermal area of southwestern Indian Ocean which points to deposits containing copper, zinc and precious metals like gold and silver.

“We observed a giant active chimney vent, which was really a big surprise for our mission. Deep-sea chimney vents as huge as this one have rarely been seen in scientific research all over the world,” Shao Zongze, a scientist in the submersible Jialong submarine, told state-run Xinhua.

“We didn’t have enough time to measure its inner temperature and to collect samples of sulfides, hydrothermal fluid and living beings this time, so I hope Jiaolong could go there again,” said Shao, a researcher with the Third Institute of Oceanography of State Oceanic Administration.

“There were mussels, shrimps and fishes around this “chimney vent”, according to Shao.

Deep-sea “chimney vents”, also known as hydrothermal sulfide, are a kind of seabed deposits containing copper, zinc and precious metals such as gold and silver.

Those metals formed sulfides after chemical reactions and came to rest in the seabed in the form of “chimney vents”.

Jiaolong found clues to a new active “chimney vent” on Monday north of a hydrothermal area called Dragon Flag, which was the first hydrothermal area Chinese scientists discovered in 2007, according to Shao.

Researching six hours in Dragon Flag, Jiaolong picked up the high temperature probe which the sub placed on January 12 and took samples of deep-sea water, hydrothermal fluid and living beings.

“The probe recorded the temperature of a chimney vent for 21 days successfully and we will analyze all data to discover whether there is regularity,” according to the scientists.

Reaching its deepest depth of 7,062 meters in the Pacific’s Mariana Trench in June 2012, Jiaolong is on a 120-day expedition in southwest Indian Ocean.

Firming up its foothold in India’s backyard, China has gained approval in 2012 to explore a 10,000 sq km polymetallic sulphide ore deposit in an international seabed region of the southwest Indian Ocean.

The 15 year approval was secured by China from the International Seabed Authority.

China also has obtained exclusive rights to prospect in a 75,000-square-km polymetallic nodule ore deposit in the east Pacific Ocean in 2001.

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