Deep-sea researchers exploring the Pacific Ocean floor near Hawaii have discovered an incredible rock formation that resembles the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz or a path to the mythical lost city of Atlantis. However, the researchers clarify that it is actually an example of ancient active volcanic geology. The formation was found in the Liliʻuokalani Ridge in the Papahānaumokuakea Marine National Monument, one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world.
The crew of the Exploration Vessel Nautilus research ship caught sight of the formation and described it as the "road to Atlantis." The researchers studied the geology and biological systems of underwater mountains with volcanic origins, known as seamounts. They identified unique fractured flows of hyaloclastite rock and sampled basalts coated with ferromanganese crusts.
The Nautilus research ship is operated by the non-profit Ocean Exploration Trust, which livestreams its deep-sea exploration. The primary objective of the expedition is to determine the geologic origin and age of seamounts to better understand the formation of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The researchers also hope to survey the seamounts for biodiversity and study coral and sponge communities commonly found at those depths.
The existence of Atlantis, a legendary island civilization, was described by the Greek philosopher Plato around 400 BC. Its advanced and powerful empire was said to have been wiped out by a natural disaster, though there is no conclusive evidence for its existence.