Rock formations located in the proximity of Zakynthos, a Greek island, led researchers to theorize that they had found an ancient lost city. They counted at least 20 pillar bases and incisions “meant for wooden columns.” But the ‘lost city’ was a rock formation originated five million years ago, during the Pliocene era.
The formations are known as exhumed hydrocarbon-seep authigenic carbonates, which refers to several rocks shaped like discs, pipes, and donuts.
The remains were first found by Pavlos Voutos back in 2013. He was snorkeling in the area, taking photographs of fish. When he reviewed the footage back on his computer, he realized that there were strange rock formations in the background that appeared to be man-made. Voutos saw what seemed to be cobblestones, symmetrical cylinders, and structures that appeared to be of Greek manufacturing.
He had performed several immersions in the area and found columns, bases of columns, mill stones, square stones, and straight rows that were completely straight and parallel, reaching at least 200 meters long. He contacted authorities but was ignored. He then uploaded his pictures on Google Earth, to which the Vice Mayor of Zakynthos gave him a call to discuss his findings. Archaeologists were called, and they suggested that these may be ancient Greek ruins.
The research was carried on by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of Greece. The mineral content of the formation was analyzed with microscopes, isotope-review, and X-rays.
It turns out that the rock formations formed out of dolomite, which is rarely found ion similar environments but appears to be common when microbes can form sediments. Dolomite is a calcium-based product that is created through the excrement of methane-feeding microbes.
It appears that the formations were originated by escaping methane from the seabed. Microbes take the carbon contained in methane and then oxidize it, thus developing a sediment almost like cement. Currently, there is no methane leaking from the fracture, as the microbes managed to fossilize it millions of years ago. The process was compared to the infamous fracking.
Not human-made but microbe-made
Archaeologists confirmed that the remains were not of human origin, mainly due to the lack of pottery, coins or signs of intelligent life. It is also known that the isle of Zakynthos is located over an oilfield, specifically in the Mediterranean Gulf of Patras.
Depending on the characteristics of the methane leak, the formations take one shape or another. Major leaks would allow the microbes to spread and form large slabs. Smaller leaks would shoot methane in a tighter stream, allowing microbes’ waste to take the form of pillars and donuts.
According to assistant researcher Julian Andrews from the University of East Anglia, “they’re found pretty much in all the oceans, in the Pacific, particularly off the west coast of the US,” when referring to the sedimentary formations. He also suggested that this finding is pretty unusual, as most of these formations are found at least 100 meters below the surface.
Source: Science Direct