I am sure these waters are VERY deep, but this finding presents some interesting challenges for people in the OpenROV community. Could this community design and build an ROV capable of exploring these sea floor ecosystems?
For anyone interested, here is a quick map I created using the isobaths from the Texas A&M site. The heavy blue line is a 175-mile buffer from the Texas coast.
The article states that the researchers were somewhere about 175 miles from the Texas coast in the GOMEX. This means that according to these bathymetry lines, the ROVs being used in this research were at depths ranging from 80 to 3000 feet down. When I was a Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, one of the professors that I worked under was a world-renowned physical oceanographer who specialized in seafloor hydrocarbon seeps like this. His area of expertise was in something known as methane hydrates (or clathrates). My money is on him being involved with this stuff in some way or another. Typically, when seeps such as these are located, they are in very deep and cold waters. The pressures and temperatures required for this sort of seep to form are almost mind-blowing.
Thanks a lot for your very nice and interesting information. The Ocean is filled with odd things. During a campaingn made by my University last year, there were found a number of mud volcanoes that nobody had realized before, at the "edge" of the continental platform west off Cadiz (Spain).