Ocean explorers have found a natural volcanic structure deep underwater that has the appearance of a mythical man-made road.
The underwater structure was discovered by marine scientists aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, who were using a remotely operated vehicle to peek at underwater structures known as seamounts—mountains formed by volcanic activity.
Specifically, their mission, called the Luʻuaeaahikiikekumu expedition, is to study the Liliʻuokalani Ridge Seamounts in Hawaii. Their aim is to investigate a split in the seamount trail, which has puzzled scientists. The origin of the thousands of seamounts in the central and western Pacific region is yet to be fully understood.
The scientists document their research live, which includes releasing video footage from remote vehicles sent to the seabed. In one clip, posted to YouTube, the scientists are observed observing geological formations and picking up rocks with a robotic arm.
At one point, the scientists stumble across a pattern of cracks in the seabed that strongly resembles a man-made brick road with distinct rectangular blocks separated from one another via straight lines and right angles. The formation stands out distinctly from the relatively formless seabed around it.
One of the scientists says: “It’s the road to Atlantis!” Another calls it “the Yellow Brick Road” from the children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
The most likely answer is that the rock formation is actually “an example of ancient active volcanic geology” according to the video description posted by the E/V Nautilus’ YouTube channel.
“At the summit of Nootka Seamount, the team spotted a ‘dried lake bed’ formation, now ID’d as a fractured flow of hyaloclastite rock—a volcanic rock formed in high-energy eruptions where many rock fragments settle to the seabed.”
The description adds that the “unique” pattern of fractures in the rock that give it its cobbled formation is probably the result of repeated heating and cooling over time due to multiple volcanic eruptions.
The underwater “road” is not the only remarkable finding by the E/V Nautilus team so far this year. Back in March, they released a clip, which can be seen at the top of this article, of a “toothy” anglerfish hanging out on some rocks over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) deep.
“Aw, look at his little face,” one of the scientists says as the remote vehicle zooms in on the animal to reveal its sharp teeth and spiky exterior.
“This anglerfish (Sladenia sp.), first identified as a batfish, was first recorded on video over 1,000 meters deep and has hands down the coolest facial expression underwater,” the video description reads.