Not every road leads to Rome.
Some paths appear to be headed to the center of the ocean — like one recently spotted by scientists in the Pacific that they dubbed the “road to Atlantis.”
Late last month, oceanographers aboard the EV Nautilus vessel were out exploring the floor of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a submarine range of volcanic mountains off the coast of Hawaii, when they came across what looked like a well-preserved brick road at the bottom of the sea.
On April 29, the researchers were amazed to see such a structure 3,376 feet underwater, near the top of Nootka Seamount. The discovery, as part of the Luʻuaeaahikiikekumu expeditionwas captured on video during the group’s 24/7 livestream on YouTube.
“It’s the road to Atlantis,” one scientist is heard saying in the background of the footage.
“That’s a really unique structure,” another added.
“This is the yellow brick road,” a third researcher chimed.
“Are you kidding me? This is crazy,” an additional voice exclaimed.
Only about 3% of the 583,000 square miles within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument area has been recorded, although its peaks are known to rise over 16,000 feet from the seabed and summit just 200 feet below the surface of the water.
The legend of Atlantis dates back to Plato’s “Dialogues,” written about 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, and not the stuff of prehistoric folklore. Moreover, there isn’t a trace of archaeologic or geologic evidence that a sunken city ever existed.
Scholars are also quite sure that the realm of Oz existed only in the mind of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” author L. Frank Baum, who published the original story in 1900.
Researchers aboard the Nautilus had their fun when they dubbed the remarkable clip “Follow the ‘Yellow Brick Road’ to Geologic Features of Liliʻuokalani Ridge Seamounts” for social media, but explained the bricklike formation’s true nature in the caption.
“What may look like a ‘yellow brick road’ to the mythical city of Atlantis is really an example of ancient active volcanic geology,” they wrote.
What the team had actually seen was later identified as hyaloclastite, “a volcanic rock formed in high-energy eruptions where many rock fragments settle to the seabed,” they explained, while the “unique 90-degree fractures” that made it look like stone laid for a road are likely a result of “heating and cooling stress from multiple eruptions.”
The current mission, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, set out for a deeper understanding of how the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands were formed. They also hope to spot healthy communities of coral and sponge, which are under threat globally.