What could be hidden behind the mysterious holes punched 2.7 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean

Mysterious holes discovered this week in the seafloor 2.7 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean have baffled scientists.

The perfectly aligned pits form a straight line on the seafloor, but their source remains a mystery.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is so confused that it even turned to the public for help.

“Okay Facebookers, time to take off your scientist hats!” he wrote on his Facebook page.

“During Saturday’s #Okeanos dive, we observed several of these sub-linear sets of holes in the sediments. These holes have been previously reported from this region, but their origin remains a mystery. Although they look almost man-made, the little piles of sediment around the holes give the impression that they were dug up by… something.

So what can be hidden behind the holes? MailOnline has explored the weird and wonderful theories circulating the internet, from sea worms to underwater gas pipes.

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Mysterious holes discovered this week in the seafloor 2.7 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean have baffled scientists.

The perfectly aligned pits form a straight line on the seafloor, but their source remains a mystery.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is so confused that it even turned to the public for help.

The perfectly aligned pits form a straight line on the seafloor, but their source remains a mystery. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is so confused that it even turned to the public for help.

“What is YOUR hypothesis?” they asked users about holes found near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, prompting a very wide range of responses.

What is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge?

Spanning the Atlantic Ocean from north to south and stretching for an impressive 10,000 miles, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is the longest mountain range in the world and one of the most prominent geological features on Earth.

Much of it is under water, and so much of it remains largely unexplored.

With active tectonic propagation, the MAR is a place of frequent earthquakes.

Spectacular hydrothermal vents can form where magma provides heat as it rises to the seafloor. These vents are known to support diverse chemosynthetic communities. However, little is known about life in these places after the disappearance of the vents, or about what kind of life exists beyond the vents, further from the rift zone.

Source: NOAA

sea ​​worms

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

Many species of marine worms live in the Atlantic Ocean and burrow into sediments in anticipation of passing prey.

For example, the bobbit worm has been known to burrow into the sea floor, leaving only its mouth open, with huge, scissor-like jaws wide open.

If a fish passes one of its antennae, the bobbit worm closes its jaws – at such a speed that their prey is often cut in two.

After the bobbit worm has finished feeding, it moves on, leaving a hole in the seabed behind it.

Speaking to MailOnline, Professor Mike Elliot, chair of the Department of Estuary and Coastal Sciences at the University of Hull, said: bioturbation (biological disturbance).

“Some burrow horizontally (such as the mole), absorbing organic matter in the sediment, and then the tunnel can collapse behind them – this gives the observed pattern.

“However, you usually see mounds of excreted sediment behind the animal, although these may be areas where the tunnel has not collapsed.”

Dr. Chris Yesson, a research fellow at the ZSL Institute of Zoology, agrees with Prof. Elliot that burrowing creatures are the most likely culprits.

Speaking to MailOnline, he said: “You can see a lot of holes on the seabed at this depth.”

“A large number of different animals burrow into the sediment, either in search of food or in search of protection.

Burrows very similar to these have been previously reported in the area, and the authors of this paper make a reasonable suggestion that it could be a large animal probing the sea floor for food, or a small burrowing animal.

Dr Jennifer Durden, a deep-sea biologist at the National Oceanographic Center, added: “While we don’t know exactly what these holes are doing, many of the similar patterns on the seafloor are formed by burrowing animals.

“These include some types of pits that look like excavations, that is, pits with piles of sediment around them.

“Sometimes these holes appear in the lines when the animals burrow, similar to what you might see in the mounds made by moles in a field.”

Many species of marine worms live in the Atlantic Ocean and burrow into sediments in anticipation of passing prey.  For example, the bobbit worm is known to burrow into the seafloor, leaving only its mouth open, with huge, scissor-like jaws wide open.

Many species of marine worms live in the Atlantic Ocean and burrow into sediments in anticipation of passing prey. For example, the bobbit worm is known to burrow into the seafloor, leaving only its mouth open, with huge, scissor-like jaws wide open.

Underwater gas pipes

Others have suggested that the holes may have been made by underwater gas pipes.

Responding to NOAA on Twitter, one user speculated, “Perhaps a piece of pipe that was perforated and lay on the sea floor.” Now it’s buried under sediment and would make a good home for 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 unlikely to contain any underwater gas pipes.

“Spanning the Atlantic Ocean from north to south and stretching for an impressive 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles), the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is the longest mountain range in the world and one of the most prominent geological features on Earth.” NOAA explained.

“Most of it is under water, and so much of it remains largely unexplored.”

Others have suggested that the holes may have been made by underwater gas pipes.  Responding to NOAA on Twitter, one user speculated,

Others have suggested that the holes may have been made by underwater gas pipes. Responding to NOAA on Twitter, one user speculated, “Perhaps a piece of pipe that was perforated and lay on the sea floor.” Now it’s buried under sediment and would make a good home for marine life?

What is an alien?

Not surprisingly, many users are convinced that aliens are the only explanation for the holes.

One user wrote, “I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s aliens,” while another added, “This is the work of an ancient civilization that some call a breakaway civilization.”

While the holes may well have been left by an “alien” species, this does not mean that these aliens are aliens.

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

“But you can probably encounter aliens right outside your home, 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 NOAA, one user suggested that the holes could have been made by bubbling methane gas.

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

“Gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide can accumulate in sediments, and carbon dioxide seeps are common,” he explained.

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

“They all leave pockmarks, but usually they are not as regular as these,” Professor Elliot said.

Dr. Yesson added: “They could be formed by geological processes such as the release of methane from under the seafloor,” although he added that this is “less likely” than sea creatures.

Deep Sea Predator

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

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

Professor Elliot thinks this might be a plausible explanation, though he admits he’s not sure what animal could have left such a trail in such deep water.

“Physically piercing the sediment from above (or by a predator looking for prey in the sediment) can leave a similar regular pattern,” he said.

“Look at the patterns in the form of a “sewing machine” left by wading birds on the mud. But I don’t know what deep-sea animals could do that.”

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

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

Aliens?

Not surprisingly, many users are convinced that aliens are the only explanation for the holes.

One user wrote, “I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s aliens,” while another added, “This is the work of an ancient civilization that some call a breakaway civilization.”

While the holes may well have been left by an “alien” species, this does not mean that these aliens are aliens.

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

“But you can probably encounter aliens right outside your home, because alien species are all 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 combine the fields of space and ocean exploration.

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

“The ocean-space project is called SUBSEA, which stands for Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analogue.”

“While looking for clues about similar environments on other ocean worlds and their potential to support life, the team will also evaluate the best ways to conduct a remote science mission and rationalize future research.”