Discovered in 2000, the “Lost City”, located at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, is the oldest known hydrothermal vent environment on the planet. 700 meters below the surface, the region is made up of carbonate formations ranging from a few centimeters to a large monolith 60 meters high.
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Research estimates that the Lost City originated at least 120,000 years ago. Its towers extend to the west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge — formation originated by the separation of the South American and African tectonic plates. There, hydrogen, methane and other gases react with seawater creating an extraordinary environment where microorganisms survive without the presence of oxygen.
Environments like this could be the key to discovering how life on Earth came to be. But this discovery could help find life on other planets as well. “This is an example of an ecosystem that could be active on Enceladus or Europa, [luas de Saturno e Júpiter]”, said microbiologist William Brazelton.
This isn’t the only hydrothermal field on the planet, but it was the only one discovered by remotely operated vehicles. Scientists who study the site highlight the importance of its protection and the research carried out there. In 2018, however, Poland acquired mining rights around the Lost City, jeopardizing the stability of the environment.
There are no resources of value at the site itself, but any mineral exploitation in the vicinity could have serious consequences. As a result, experts are calling for the City to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which guarantees the conservation of natural and built environments around the world.
Existing for tens of thousands of years and harboring one of the most peculiar environments on the planet, the Lost City may soon be lost forever.
Source: Science Alert