Cold Seeps

Cold Seeps

Student Investigation:

Methane Ice Worms

Grade Level:

9th-12th (Life Science/Chemosynthesis)

Lesson Description:

A methane seep is a cold seep characterized by the methane and hydrogen sulfide bubbles that come out of the seafloor. These percolating chemicals provide the energy for chemosynthetic life and new species are often discovered in seep ecosystems. In the Gulf of Mexico, a flat, pinkish “ice worm” (Hesiocaeca methanicola) was discovered in dense colonies on cold seeps where they live on mounds of exposed methane hydrate (“methane ice”). In this investigation, students evaluate evidence and reasoning in order to construct an argument that supports a claim about the phenomenon: How do methane ice worms obtain organic compounds and energy while living on methane hydrate?