News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

“Lost City”


The structures, one of them 18 stories high, stick out from the summit of a mountain. The denizens survive on hydrogen and methane. Future city in Iceland? Alien civilization on another planet?

Welcome to “Lost City“. The site is located right here on Earth but underneath the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike the black hydrothermal chimneys more widely known along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the chemistry at remote “Lost City” produces white and grey carbonate chimneys. Here, heat from warm material in the Earth’s upper mantle interacts with cold ocean water to create fluids rich with hydrogen and methane flowing through spires of carbonate that stand 30 to 60 meters tall. Within this breathtaking vista, far from the sunshine available near the ocean surface, strange life forms live off of a food cycle that begins with hydrogen and methane.

Researchers traveled to Lost City by Alvin, the submersible vehicle. Their research article was printed in the March 4, 2005 issue of Science.

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