Here's what the Lost City at the bottom of the Atlantic/ZMG looks like - Amaze Lab
What lies at the bottom of our oceans has fascinated mankind since time immemorial, so it's no wonder we've created countless myths about what happens in the depths of water.
But step aside, Atlantis — because scientists have discovered a real lost city, and it's teeming with life. True, this is not the home of a long-forgotten human civilization, but in this unique lost city found at the bottom of the North Atlantic, life exists - and in a very mysterious and unusual way.
Near the summit of an underwater mountain west of the Mid-Atlantic Range, a jagged landscape of "towers" rises from the gloom. The ceramic carbonate walls and columns appear bright blue in the face of the light of a remotely operated underwater vehicle sent to explore the site. Their height ranges from tiny piles the size of mushrooms to a large monolith 60 meters high. It is actually a "lost city" discovered by scientists in 2000, more than 700 meters below the surface.
The Lost City's hydrothermal field is the longest known ventilation environment in the ocean. Nothing else like it has ever been found - which is pretty crazy. The scientific journal ScienceAlert explains that experts believe this field can offer insights into ecosystems that could exist elsewhere in the universe.
A remotely operated vehicle shines a light on the minarets of the Lost City/documentation on social networks according to Section 27A of the Copyright Law, D. Kelley/UW/URI-IAO/NOAA
For at least 120,000 years, the field's reaction to seawater has emitted hydrogen, methane and other dissolved gases into the ocean and they feed snails, crustaceans and bacterial communities. In the cracks in the vents of the field, when hydrocarbons feed new microbial communities even without the presence of oxygen.
Chimneys that emit hot gases at temperatures up to 40°C are home to an abundance of snails and crustaceans. Despite the lack of oxygen down there, larger animals also survive in this extreme environment, including crabs, shrimp and eels. Though admittedly they are rare.
Despite the area's extreme conditions, it appears to be teeming with life – and researchers believe it is worth our attention and protection. While other hydrothermal fields like this probably exist elsewhere in the world's oceans, this is the only one a remotely operated vehicle has been able to detect so far.
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Strands of bacteria living on calcite openings in the lost city/documentation on social networks according to section 27A of the Copyright Act, University of Washington/CC BY 3.0
The hydrocarbons created by the vents of the Lost City were not created from atmospheric carbon dioxide or sunlight, but from chemical reactions on the deep seafloor. Thus it is possible that life on our planet came into being about 3.7 billion years ago, and how life could have formed on others. Since hydrocarbons are the building blocks of life, this leaves open the possibility that life originated in a habitat just like this – and not just on our planet.
"This is an example of a kind of ecosystem that could be active on Enceladus or Europa (moons) right at this second," microbiologist William Brazelton told The Smithsonian in 2018, referring to Saturn and Jupiter's moons, "and possibly Mars in the past."
Unlike underwater volcanic vents called "black smokers," which have also been named as a possible first habitat, the lost city's ecosystem does not depend on magma heat. "Black smokers" mainly produce minerals rich in iron and sulfur, while the chimneys of the Lost City produce up to 100 times more hydrogen and methane. The calcite openings of the Lost City are also much larger than black smokers, suggesting that they are active longer. The tallest of the monoliths is called Poseidon, after the Greek god of the sea, and reaches a height of more than 60 meters.
Take a look:
Unfortunately, scientists aren't the only ones this extraordinary terrain calls for. In 2018, it was announced that Poland had won the rights to mine the deep sea around the lost city. While there are no precious resources to dig in the thermal field itself, the destruction of the city's surroundings can have unintended consequences. Any movement made by mining can easily wipe out this amazing habitat, even though there is seemingly no danger.
Some experts are calling for the Lost City to be listed as a World Heritage Site, to protect this natural wonder before it's too late. For tens of thousands of years, the Lost City has stood as a testament to the enduring life force and we really don't want to be the ones destroying it.
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