The road to Emerald City might take you along the ocean floor. The crew of the Nautilus Exploration Vessel saw a peculiar formation while researching Liliuokalani Ridge in the Papahnaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM) in the Pacific Ocean.
PMNM is one of the world’s largest marine conservation zones, and only 3% of its seabed has been discovered.
This discovery resembles a cobblestone path. In a video posted last week, experts who saw live diving footage of the structure described it as a “yellow brick road” and “the route to Atlantis,” odd, calm, and wild.
Nautilus spent most of April researching the geology and biological systems of seamounts, which are underwater mountains formed by volcanic activity.
“At the top of Nootka Seamount, the researchers discovered a dried lake bed formation, which has now been identified as a fractured flow of hyaloclastite rock (a volcanic rock generated in high-energy eruptions when numerous rock fragments fall to the seabed),” the researchers explained.
The brick-like patterns are most likely caused by heating and cooling cycles associated with eruptions.
The charity Ocean Exploration Trust operates the exploration vessel, which live streams its expeditions, offering viewers a direct peek at what its remote-controlled diving vehicles experience in the deep.
Earlier this year, Nautilus captured a wide range of fascinating and strange underwater life, including tiny dumbo octopuses and an intriguing gelatinous monster. The Wizard of Oz-like creation demonstrates how these ocean discoveries can shed light on ordinarily concealed processes beneath the waves.