Not all roads lead to Rome.
Some paths seem to head towards the center of the ocean – like the one recently spotted by scientists in the Pacific which they dubbed the “road to Atlantis”.
Late last month, oceanographers aboard the ship EV Nautilus were exploring the floor of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, an underwater volcanic mountain range off the coast of Hawaii, when they came across what looked like to a well-preserved brick road at the bottom of the sea.
On April 29, researchers were amazed to see such a structure 3,376 feet underwater, near the top of Nootka Seamount. The discovery, part of the Luʻuaeaahikiikekumu expedition, was captured on video during the group’s 24/7 livestream on YouTube.
“It’s the road to Atlantis”, we hear a scientist say in the background of the sequence.
“It’s a really unique structure,” added another.
“It’s the yellow brick road,” said a third researcher.
“Are you kidding me? That’s crazy,” another voice exclaimed.
Only about 3% of the 583,000 square miles within the area of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument has been recorded, although its peaks are known to rise over 16,000 feet from the seabed and only 200 feet below the surface of the water.
The legend of Atlantis dates back to Plato’s “Dialogues”, written around 360 BC – the first of all records of the lost city in history. In the philosopher’s tale, the city was a metaphor for the corruption of power, wealth and industry. In other words, it was created strictly as a plot device, not the stuff of prehistoric folklore. Additionally, there is no trace of archaeological or geological evidence that a sunken city ever existed.
Scholars are also quite sure that the kingdom of Oz only existed in the mind of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” author L. Frank Baum, who published the original story in 1900.
Researchers aboard the Nautilus were amused when they dubbed the remarkable clip “Follow the ‘yellow brick road’ to the geological features of the Liliʻuokalani Ridge Seamounts” for social media, but explained the true nature of the brick formation in the caption.
“What may look like a ‘yellow brick road’ to the mythical city of Atlantis is actually an example of ancient active volcanic geology,” they wrote.
What the team had actually seen was later identified as hyaloclastite, “a volcanic rock formed during high-energy eruptions where many rock fragments are deposited on the seabed,” they explained, while that the “single 90 degree fractures” that made it look like stone laid for a road are likely the result of “heating and cooling stress from multiple eruptions”.
The current mission, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aims to better understand how the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands formed. They also hope to spot healthy coral and sponge communities, which are globally threatened.