Deep-sea researchers discover ‘yellow brick road’ at bottom of the ocean

LOS ANGELES — In what many may think looks like a piece of the mythical city of Atlantis, deep-sea researchers say they’ve discovered a “yellow brick road” at the bottom of the ocean.

The crew of Exploration Vessel Nautilus spotted the incredible rock formation while exploring in Hawaii.

“What may look like a “yellow brick road” to the mythical city of Atlantis is really an example of ancient active volcanic geology!” the team explains in a media release.

“Our Corps of Exploration have witnessed incredibly unique and fascinating geological formations while diving on the Liliʻuokalani Ridge within Papahānaumokuakea Marine National Monument.”

“At the summit of Nootka Seamount, the team spotted a ‘dried lake bed’ formation, now IDed as a fractured flow of hyaloclastite rock (a volcanic rock formed in high-energy eruptions where many rock fragments settle to the seabed).”

Deep sea road
(Credit: Exploration Vessel Nautilus)

“The unique 90-degree fractures are likely related to heating and cooling stress from multiple eruptions at this baked margin. Throughout the seamount chain, the team also sampled basalts coated with ferromanganese (iron-manganese) crusts from across different depths and oxygen saturations as well as an interesting-looking pumice rock that almost resembled a sponge,” the researchers from the Ocean Exploration Trust continue.

This observation was made during OET’s Expedition NA138 to explore the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), in partnership with the NOAA Ocean Exploration and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

“Our exploration of this never-before-surveyed area is helping researchers take a deeper look at life on and within the rocky slopes of these deep, ancient seamounts,” researchers add.

Deep sea road
(Credit: Exploration Vessel Nautilus)

“These studies will help provide baseline information on the living communities of seamounts which can inform management and conservation measures.”

South West News Service writer Dean Murray contributed to this report.