Jan Steinlokk holds a sample of sulphides the way someone might handle a rock from the surface of Mars.

“These samples have been collected at 3000 meters depth, a place where no one has ever been,” says Steinlokk, a geologist with the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD).

The sulphide samples, often referred to as “black smokers”, are formed when seawater comes into contact with magma below the earth’s crust, heats up and is flushed back to the seabed carrying dissolved metals and sulphur.