Despite an environment that humans would find deadly, life thrives around hydrothermal vents on the seafloor. Hydrothermal vents are areas where mineral-rich water spews out from the seafloor. The mineral-rich water is formed by seawater seeping through Earth's crust and then being heated by magma. Microbial communities that live around the vents can convert the minerals and chemicals in the water into energy through a process called chemosynthesis. These microbes then serve as the base of a food web that supports a whole array of organisms living near the vents, far away from the reach of the Sun.