Follow the yellow brick road: Have scientists found an undersea path to the lost city of Atlantis?

May 12, 2022

Not every road leads to Rome. Some paths appear to be headed to the very heart of the ocean—like the one recently spotted by scientists in the Pacific, which they dubbed the “road to Atlantis,” reports the New York Post.

Late last month, oceanographers aboard the E/V 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 on the ocean floor.

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 expedition, was 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.

If the lost city of Atlantis were real, it would have fallen near the Strait of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean, according to Plato’s writings. Indeed, the legend of Atlantis dates back to Plato’s “Dialogues,  written about 360 B.C.—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.

However, the scientists now believe, “What may look like a ‘yellow brick road’ to the mythical city of Atlantis is really an example of ancient active volcanic geology.”

What the team actually had 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 to obtain a deeper understanding of how the northwestern Hawaiian Islands were formed.

Research contact: @nypost