September 25, 2022

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There is a 'lost city' in the depths of the ocean, a place unlike any other: ScienceAlert

There is a ‘lost city’ in the depths of the ocean, a place unlike any other: ScienceAlert

Near the summit of an underwater mountain west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a jagged landscape of towers rises out of the darkness.

Its creamy carbon walls and pillars appear ghostly blue in the light of a remotely operated vehicle sent out to explore. They range in height from Small piles the size of frogs into a large monolith It has a height of 60 meters (nearly 200 feet). This is the lost city.

A remotely operated car highlights the towers of the Lost City. (D. Kelley / UW / URI-IAO / NOAA).

Scientists discovered it in 2000, More than 700 meters (2,300 feet) below the surface, The Lost City’s hydrothermal field is the longest known vent environment in the ocean. Nothing else like it was found.

For at least 120,000 years and possibly longer, the rising mantle in this part of the world has been interacting with seawater to spew hydrogen, methane and other dissolved gases into the ocean.

In the cracks and crevices of field openings, hydrocarbons feed new microbial communities even without the presence of oxygen.

bacteria on a calcite column.
Chains of bacteria live on calcite vents in the Lost City. (University of Washington / CC BY 3.0).

Chimneys that emit gases with a temperature of up to 40 ° C (104 degrees Fahrenheit) It is home to an abundance of snails and crustaceans. Large animals such as crabs, shrimp, sea urchins and eels are rare but still found.

Despite the harsh nature of the environment, it appears to be teeming with life, and some researchers believe it deserves our attention and protection.

While other hydrothermal fields like this may exist elsewhere in the world’s oceans, this is the only remotely operated vehicle I’ve been able to find so far.

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The hydrocarbons produced by the City’s lost vents were formed not by atmospheric carbon dioxide or sunlight, but by chemical reactions on the deep sea floor.

Since hydrocarbons are the building blocks of life, this leaves open the possibility that life may have arisen in a habitat like this. And not only on our planet.

“This is an example of a type of ecosystem that could be active on Enceladus or Europa at this moment,” microbiologist William Brazelton Tell Smithsonian in 2018, referring to the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.

And maybe Mars In the past.”

Unlike volcanic vents that are called underwater black smokerswhich has also been named as a possible first habitat, the ecosystem of the Lost City is not dependent on the heat of magma.

Black smokers produce mostly iron- and sulfur-rich minerals, while Lost City chimneys produce up to 100 times More hydrogen and methane.

Also, the calcite vents of the Lost City were significantly larger than that of black smokers, indicating that they were active for a longer time.

Long vent of the lost city
A nine-meter chimney in the Lost City. (University of Washington/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution).

The tallest monolith is called Poseidon, after the Greek god of the sea, and its height stretches to more than 60 meters.

Meanwhile, to the northeast of the tower is a sloping side with short bursts of activity. Researchers at the University of Washington Describe The vents are here as “weeping” fluids to produce “clumps of micro-increments of polymanic carbons that extend outward like inverted fingers.”

Unfortunately, scientists are not the only ones affected by this unusual terrain.

In 2018, it was announced that Poland has win the rights Deep sea mining around the lost city. Although there are no precious resources to be dredged into the actual thermal field itself, the destruction of areas around the city may have unintended consequences.

Scientists have warned that any plumes or drainage from mining could easily wash away the wonderful habitat.

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Therefore, some experts calls for The Lost City will be listed as a World Heritage Site, to protect the natural wonder before it is too late.

For tens of thousands of years, the Lost City has stood as a testament to the everlasting life force.

It would be like us just to destroy it.