Researchers have discovered a series of mysterious, “perfectly aligned” holes punched into the seafloor about 2.6 kilometers below the ocean’s surface, and they have no idea who or what made them.
The strange holes were discovered by the crew of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) vessel Okeanos Explorer while exploring the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a largely unexplored region of the Earth’s seafloor that is part of the world’s largest mountain range.
The holes form a straight line and appear at regularly repeated distances, and they are surrounded by tiny mounds of sediment. This is not the first time holes have been discovered in the area; two marine scientists from the US National Marine Fisheries Service also spotted mysterious depressions on the ocean floor during a dive in 2004.
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“These holes have been previously reported from the region, but their origin remains a mystery,” the NOAA researchers wrote on Facebook. (will open in a new tab). “While they look almost man-made, the little piles of sediment around the holes make them look like they were dug up by…something.”
In 2004, scientists suggested that the holes were made by an organism living in or sifting seabed sediments, but since no such creature has been seen to make them, their exact origin is unknown. Public speculation on NOAA’s Facebook page has ranged from cracked floor surfaces caused by gas release, to underwater human ships digging for treasure, to ants, aliens, and even starfish making cartwheels.
Unsolved Mystery Resembles Underwater ‘Yellow Brick Road’ to Atlantis (will open in a new tab) which ocean explorers discovered atop a seamount off Hawaii in May. Scientists explained this discovery – they suspected that the heating and cooling of the seabed as a result of numerous volcanic eruptions created a strange path.
On the other hand, it may take a little longer to figure out what creates the holes. Researchers will continue to explore the region until September as part of the Journey to the Ridge 2022 expedition, which aims to map the region’s coral reefs. (will open in a new tab) and habitats of sponges, as well as the study of the region’s hydrothermal vents and its fault and rift zones. Maybe, if they’re lucky, they can catch the hole punchers at the scene of the crime.
Originally published on Live Science.