On the ocean floor, at a depth that not even sunlight can reach, volcanoes are spewing precious minerals at temperatures reaching 750 degrees Fahrenheit. These hydrothermal vents somehow also provide the opportunity for life.
The vents release iron, zinc, copper, lead, and cobalt, and a whole host of strange sea creatures call them home. More than 300 species have been identified living in and around hydrothermal vents, according to the World Wildlife Fund, and 95% of them had never been seen before.
But mining companies see these vents as an opportunity to extract resources from the ocean floor. Though no undersea mining has started yet, several companies are getting ready to do so.