GO Sars: University of Bergen
"We have discovered five new vent fields in Norwegian national waters between Jan Mayen island and Loki's Castle," Rolf Pedersen, the professor leading the research, told The Local. "The vent fields were discovered during a cruise with RV GO Sars in July this summer. Two of these were located princely at the seafloor, the three others has been located approximately based on anomalies in the water column."
Dag Rune Olsen, rector of the University of Bergen, where the researchers are based, said that the findings were like a "moon landing in the deep sea."
"We probably know even less about the very deep seas and oceans then we know about the moon," he said.
Pedersen made his name in 2008 when he discovered the underwater volcanic range Loki's Castle. The new discovery comprises hundreds more volcanos, some just 20m below the surface.
"We have found volcanoes at such a shallow level and they could break the surface at any time and form a new island group," Pedersen told VG newspaper. "We have long known that Iceland has both volcanic activity and hot springs, but we thought that we did not have anything like that in Norway. But we do, it was only under water."
The scientists have already discovered some 50 new species on the site, which Olsen said could lead to new drugs being developed.
"There are biological species which haven't been discovered before that live in extremely harsh environments. This brings the potential to discover new molecules that we haven't been aware of which could be used in the development of drugs."