What could be behind mysterious holes drilled 1.7 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean

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The mysterious holes discovered this week in the seabed 1.7 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean have left scientists perplexed.

The perfectly aligned pits form a straight line on the sea floor, but their origin remains a mystery.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration got so confused they even asked the public for help.

“Ok Facebooker, time to get those scientist hats out!” she wrote on his Facebook page.

“During the #Okeanos dive on Saturday, we observed many of these sublinear sets of holes in the sediment. These holes have previously been reported by the region, but their origin remains a mystery. Although they seem almost man-made, the little piles of sediment around the holes make them look like they’ve been dug out of … something. ‘

So what could be behind the holes? MailOnline has explored the strange and wonderful theories circulating online, from marine worms to underwater gas pipes.

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Mysterious holes discovered this week in the seabed 1.7 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean have left scientists perplexed

Mysterious holes discovered this week in the seabed 1.7 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean have left scientists perplexed

The perfectly aligned pits form a straight line on the sea floor, but their origin remains a mystery.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration got so confused they even asked the public for help

The perfectly aligned pits form a straight line on the sea floor, but their origin remains a mystery. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration got so confused they even asked the public for help

“What’s YOUR guess?” asked users about the holes found near the mid-Atlantic ridge, eliciting a very wide range of responses

What is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge?

Covering the north-south length of the Atlantic Ocean and spanning 10,000 miles, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is the longest mountain range in the world and one of the most important geological features on Earth.

Most of it is underwater and therefore much of it remains largely unexplored.

With active tectonic diffusion, the MAR is the site of frequent earthquakes.

Spectacular hydrothermal vents can form where magma provides heat as it rises to the sea floor. These vents are known to support several chemosynthetic communities. However, little is known about life at these sites once the vents have died out, or what life lies beyond the vents, further from the rift zone.

Source: NOAA

Marine worms

One of the most popular theories discussed on social media is that the holes were left by some species of sea creature, with sea worms being suggested as the culprits.

Many species of marine worms live in the Atlantic Ocean and bury themselves in sediments awaiting the passage of their prey.

For example, the bobbit worm is known to bury in the sea floor, leaving only its mouth exposed, with its huge, wide-open scissor jaws.

If a fish touches one of its antennae, the bobbit worm closes its jaws, with such speed that the prey is often cut in two.

Once the bobbit worm is done feeding, it moves, leaving a hole in the sea floor behind.

Speaking to MailOnline, Professor Mike Elliot, Chair of Estuary and Coastal Sciences at the University of Hull, said: “Many organisms (e.g. worms, burrowing crustaceans and sea cucumbers) move in and through sediment and they disturb it – often on a regular basis – this is called bioturbation (biological disturbance).

“Some hide horizontally (like a mole) as they ingest the organic matter in the sediment and then the tunnel could collapse behind them – this would give the pattern seen.

“However, you would usually see piles of sediment ejected behind the animal, even though it could be the areas where the tunnel did not collapse.”

Dr Chris Yesson, a researcher at the ZSL Institute of Zoology, agreed with Professor Elliot that burrowing creatures were the lkley culprits.

Speaking with MailOnline, he said: “There are many burrows to be seen in the sea floor at this type of depth.

“A large number of different animals will burrow into the sediment to search for food or to protect themselves.

“Such very similar to these have previously been reported from this area and the authors of this paper provide some reasonable assumptions that these could be a large animal probing the sea floor in search of food, or be a small animal. digger. “

Dr Jennifer Durden, a deep-sea biologist at the National Oceanography Center, added: ‘While we don’t know exactly what creates these holes, many similar patterns in the seabed are created by burrowing animals.

‘These include some types of pits that look like excavations, i.e. pits with some piles of sediment around them.

“Sometimes these holes occur in rows as animals creep in, similar to what you might see with mounds made by moles in a field.”

Many species of marine worms live in the Atlantic Ocean and bury themselves in sediments awaiting the passage of their prey.  For example, the bobbit worm is known to bury in the sea floor, leaving only its mouth exposed, with its huge, wide-open scissor jaws.

Many species of marine worms live in the Atlantic Ocean and bury themselves in sediments awaiting the passage of their prey. For example, the bobbit worm is known to bury in the sea floor, leaving only its mouth exposed, with its huge, wide-open scissor jaws.

Submarine gas pipes

Others have suggested that the holes could be made from submarine gas pipes.

Responding to NOAA on Twitter, one user suggested: ‘Maybe a piece of pipe drilled and laid on the seabed. Now buried in sediment, is it a good home for digging up marine life?’

However, the images were taken in the deep waters of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an area that has been largely unexplored and is very unlikely to contain underwater gas pipes.

“Spreading along the north-south length of the Atlantic Ocean and spanning 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles), the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is the longest mountain range in the world and one of the most important geological features on Earth,” NOAA explained.

“Most of it is underwater and so much of it remains largely unexplored.”

Others have suggested that the holes could be made from submarine gas pipes. Responding to NOAA on Twitter, one user suggested: ‘Maybe a piece of pipe drilled and laid on the seabed. Now buried in sediment, is it a good home for digging up marine life?’

What is an alien?

Unsurprisingly, many users are convinced that the only explanation for the holes is aliens.

One user wrote: “I’m not saying they are aliens, but they are aliens”, while another added: “This is the work of an ancient civilization, what some call a separatist civilization.”

While the holes may very well have been left by an “alien” species, that doesn’t mean these aliens are extraterrestrials.

“When someone talks about aliens, we immediately think about extraterrestrial life,” Frontiers explains.

“But you can probably meet aliens right outside the house, because alien species are all around us.

“Alien species are species that live in nature but far from their natural range.”

Sediment gas

In response to the NOAA, a user suggested that the holes may have been made by bubbling methane gas.

Speaking to MailOnline, Professor Elliot explained that this might be plausible.

“Gases like methane and hydrogen sulfide can build up in sediments and carbon dioxide infiltrations are common,” he explained.

However, these gases are unlikely to leave such a linear trail.

‘These all leave pockmarks, but they are usually not as regular as these,’ said Professor Elliot.

Dr Yesson added, “It could be formed from geological processes such as methane leaking from beneath the seafloor,” although he added that this was “less likely” than sea creatures.

Deep water predator

One of the most popular suggestions on Facebook was some kind of crab or other deep-sea predator.

“A previously unknown species of crab that hides in rectangular holes and hunts in linear packs, waiting for prey to fall into their clutches,” wrote one user.

Professor Elliot thinks this could be a plausible explanation, although he admits he’s not sure what kind of animal could leave this mark in such deep water.

“Physical drilling of the sediment from above (by a predator looking for prey in the sediment) could leave a regular pattern like this,” he said.

‘Look at the’ sewing machine ‘patterns left by the wading birds on the mudflat. But I don’t know which deep sea animals could do that. ‘

One of the most popular suggestions on Facebook was some kind of crab or other deep-sea predator.  In the photo: Portunus Segnis crab on the seabed

One of the most popular suggestions on Facebook was some kind of crab or other deep-sea predator. In the photo: Portunus Segnis crab on the seabed

Aliens?

Unsurprisingly, many users are convinced that the only explanation for the holes is aliens.

One user wrote: “I’m not saying they are aliens, but they are aliens”, while another added: “This is the work of an ancient civilization, what some call a separatist civilization.”

While the holes may very well have been left by an “alien” species, that doesn’t mean these aliens are extraterrestrials.

“When someone talks about aliens, we immediately think about extraterrestrial life,” Frontiers explains.

‘But you can probably meet aliens right outside your home, because alien species are everywhere around us. Alien species are species that live in nature but far from their natural range.’

Since 2017, NASA has carried out two missions to bring together the fields of space and ocean exploration.

“Many NASA projects study places on Earth that could be analogous to extraterrestrial places,” explains NASA.

‘The project that unites ocean and space is called SUBSEA, which stands for Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog.

“While searching for clues to similar environments on other ocean worlds and their potential to support life, the team will also evaluate the best ways to conduct a remote scientific mission and simplify future exploration.”

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