A lost city in the depths of the ocean.. What is its story?

2023-12-30 2023-12-30T18:41:50Z
طقس العرب
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Arabia Weather - Close to the top of an underwater mountain west of the Mid-Atlantic Mountain Range, a winding landscape of towers consisting of walls and columns made of smooth carbonate appears in a pale blue color, under the light of a remotely operated vehicle for the purpose of exploration.

These towers vary in height, extending from small fungi-sized mounds to large 60-metre-tall monoliths, forming this lost city.

In 2000, scientists discovered the Lost City's hydrothermal field at a depth of more than 700 meters (2,300 ft), the longest known ocean vent environment, the likes of which has never been found at any other time.

For at least 120,000 years, this lost city has benefited from the interaction of the upwelling mantle in this part of the world with seawater to release hydrogen, methane and other gases into the ocean. In cracks and fissures in the field, hydrocarbons surround microbial communities even without the presence of oxygen.

The chimneys, which release gases at temperatures of up to 40°C (104°F), are home to a rich diversity of snails and crustaceans. Although larger animals such as crabs, shrimp, sea urchins and eels are rare, they are still found in this unique environment.

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

Although there are other potentially similar hydrothermal fields in the world's oceans, this is the only one found so far by remotely operated vehicles.

The hydrocarbons produced by the Lost City's vents are not formed from atmospheric carbon dioxide or sunlight, but are produced as a result of chemical reactions on the deep sea floor.

Since hydrocarbons are the building blocks of life, scientists wonder if life could have originated in a place just like this and not just on our planet. “This is an example of some kind of ecosystem that could be active on Enceladus or Europa right now,” microbiologist William Brazelton told the Smithsonian in 2018, referring to the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.

Unlike the underwater black chimneys, known as hot chimneys, which are thought to be a possible initial habitat for life, the Lost City's ecosystem is not dependent on the heat of magma.

Hot smokestacks produce mostly iron- and sulfur-rich minerals, while the Lost City's chimneys produce much higher levels of hydrogen and methane.

The calcite vents in the Lost City appear much larger than the black chimneys, indicating that they were active for a longer period. The tallest of these rocks, called Poseidon, extends more than 60 metres.

Meanwhile, to the northeast of the tower is a rocky slope with short periods of activity. Researchers at the University of Washington described these vents as “seeding” fluid to produce “clusters of tiny, multi-branched carbonate appendages that extend outward like the fingers of an upturned hand.”

Unfortunately for scientists, they are not the only ones showing interest in this unusual terrain.

In 2018, it was announced that Poland had won the rights to deep-sea exploration around the lost city. Although there are no valuable resources to be extracted in the thermal field itself, scientific warnings indicate that the destruction of the areas surrounding the city may have unintended consequences.

Scientists warn that any plumes or drainages resulting from excavations could easily submerge the magnificent natural habitat. Therefore, some experts are calling for the Lost City to be included as a World Heritage Site, with the aim of protecting these natural wonders before it is too late.

For many decades, the Lost City has been a testament to the power of sustainable living. These scientific warnings emphasize the importance of preserving unique environmental sites, and rejecting any destruction that could lead to the loss of this unique and historical environmental wealth that extends for several thousand years.

The fate of the Lost City would be similar to the fate of many areas if it were destroyed, as this could cause a loss of sustainability of life in that area.


Source: mscience

This article was written originally in Arabic and is translated using a 3rd party automated service. ArabiaWeather is not responsible for any grammatical errors whatsoever.
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