sterlingda writes: Bruce Marshall has filed a patent for a hydrothermal system that would harness the vast energy available from deep sea hydrothermal vents in which water seeps into near-surface magma, where it is continuously heated and ejected through vents at around 750 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot water and minerals would be brought to the surface to turn turbines. The vent output is very consistent and energy dense and at very high volumes. This is a brand new, previously untouched, energy source — a discovery on the scale of man's harnessing nuclear power, but cleaner and potentially cheaper. National Geographic estimates the power of just the known worldwide vents at around 17 million megawatts, with thousands of miles of ocean still unexplored. It's difficult to estimate the quality and number of vents that are convenient enough to be practical, but Marshall believes that several thousand gigawatts of power are recoverable worldwide-- the equivalent of perhaps 1,000 or more nuclear power plants. Also, as the hydrothermal fluid rises it carries with it some of the richest ores to be found anywhere, laden with just about every metal and mineral that we mine the surface for now. Anyone have a few spare billion to help build the pilot plant?