Sunday, May 22, 2022

Follow the 'Yellow Brick Road' to geologic features of Liliʻuokalani Ridge Seamounts | Nautilus Live

What may look like a "yellow brick road" to the mythical city of Atlantis is really an example of ancient active volcanic geology!
Our Corps of Exploration have witnessed incredibly unique and fascinating geological formations while diving on the Liliʻuokalani Ridge within Papahānaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
At the summit of Nootka Seamount, the team spotted a "dried lake bed" formation, now IDed as a fractured flow of hyaloclastite rock (a volcanic rock formed in high-energy eruptions where many rock fragments settle to the seabed).
The unique 90-degree fractures are likely related to heating and cooling stress from multiple eruptions at this baked margin.
Throughout the seamount chain, the team also sampled basalts coated with ferromanganese (iron-manganese) crusts from across different depths and oxygen saturations as well as an interesting-looking pumice rock that almost resembled a sponge.
Our exploration of this never-before-surveyed area is helping researchers take a deeper look at life on and within the rocky slopes of these deep, ancient seamounts.
Scientists are studying the microbial communities residing within the ferromanganese crusts found over rock surfaces and how the characteristics of the crusts vary from region to region in ocean basins as well the microorganisms that live on and within them.
These studies will help provide baseline information on the living communities of seamounts which can inform management and conservation measures.
“I feel like I’m looking at the road to Atlantis,” a crew member aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus murmurs partway into a clip of the team’s undersea exploration. 
“Are you kidding? This is crazy.”

Perhaps the scientist, one of the Corps of Exploration team studying the Liliʻuokalani Ridge in the Pacific Ocean, could be so metaphorical because he’d already partially identified what the structure really was.
Localization with the GeoGarage platform (UKHO nautical raster chart)
After describing the underwater feature as a “dried lake bed,” a post on the Nautilus’ site gives more context.
What may look like a “yellow brick road” to the mythical city of Atlantis is really an example of ancient active volcanic geology.

The crew posted a video to the official Nautilus YouTube channel earlier this week, pictured below. There are also clips of the crew collecting rock samples and commenting on nearby sea life.

Last month, CNET reports the team found some beautiful, otherworldlyspecies during their submarine excursions.
The “unidentified gelatinous creature” gave the team a thrill, with one team member exclaiming “Very charismatic. Yay!” during a clip of the voyage.

It’s pretty heartwarming to see marine scientists get excited over new discoveries, but it’s also sad to know there are so many things we don’t know about the ocean given how fast we’re destroying it.
Coral reefs are bleaching again, animals are living in plastic wastelands and scientists say a potential mass extinction is on the way.

The Nautilus team can’t be everywhere all at once, nor can other oceanic researchers.
What kinds of sea life will they leave uncatalogued because it died before they got a chance to study it? 

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