(The specifications referred to here are from the AQA Exam Board;
other Boards will of course differ slightly)


'11.5 What determines where particular species live and how many of them there are?', specifically animals may be adapted for survival in the conditions where they normally live and animals may be adapted to cope with specific features of their environment.

Q: How are animals in the deep ocean, and at deep-sea vents, adapted for survival in the conditions where they live?

'12.4 What happens to energy and biomass at each stage in a food chain?', specifically radiation from the Sun is the source of energy for most communities of living organisms.

Q: Why are there no plants in the deep ocean?

The discovery thirty years ago of colonies of life around deep-sea vents is the reason for the word 'most' in the curriculum statement above - why? And why do some scientists think that life on Earth might even have started at deep-sea vents?


'11.6 The Earth consists of a core, mantle and crust', specifically the Earth's crust and the upper part of the mantle are cracked into a number of large pieces (tectonic plates). Convection currents within the Earth's mantle, driven by heat released by natural radioactive processes, cause the plates to move at relative speeds of a few centimetres per year.

Q: What happens where tectonic plates move apart, and where on Earth is this occurring?

'13.3' the Water Cycle

As each turn of the Water Cycle washes more minerals from the continents into the oceans, why does the sea not get more salty over time? The reactions that drive deep-sea vents, between seawater and the rocks of the Earth's crust, hold the answer...


'13.5 What is sound?', specifically sound waves can be reflected and refracted.

Q: How does sonar work, and how do we use it to (1) avoid crashing our undersea vehicles and (2) map the ocean floor? And why do we use sound instead of light underwater?

Other curriculum links

Primary curriculum: scientific knowledge and technological understanding

Key Stage 3: 'Science'

Key Stage 4: 'Science'

A-level Biology, Chemistry, Physics

Expedition diary

Check out our regular reports on the progress of the expedition, and what we're finding on the ocean floor.
What's happening aboard?

Expedition team

Meet the scientists exploring deep-sea vents in the Indian Ocean aboard the research ship RRS James Cook.
Who are we?