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Shipwreck Search Uncovers Two Mysterious 'Giant Flowers' [VIDEO]

Apr 30, 2014 03:17 PM EDT
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While investigating a shipwreck, government scientists uncovered two "giant flowers" on the ocean floor which in fact turned out to be asphalt volcanoes, reports reveal.

Roughly 175 miles off the Texas coast, the underwater robot Deep Discoverer (D2) was sent in to explore three sunken ships lying over a mile beneath the surface. Researchers said sonar showed a cluster of "really big structures" at a depth of 1,900 meters in the Gulf of Mexico, which the team thought was a shipwreck.

A closer look showed rocks splayed out in the formation of a flower, with a black substance leaking out of it.

"Within a few minutes, the scientists on the dive realized that they were looking at a much unexpected example of an asphalt volcano," the NOAA said.

When materials from deep within the Earth are expelled, they create the above land structures we see as volcanoes. Mostly we think of molten lava when we hear the word "volcano", but they can form from eruptions of mud, shale, and salt, too.

"Imagine that this would be like a big piece of molten tar," William Kiene, a regional scientist with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, said, according to KHOU. "And as it gets to the surface and it comes in contact with the cold water, it would solidify. So it came up in this very peculiar shape, like a lily. When we see something like that, we just blurt out these odd names. So we come up with this: 'Tar Lily.'"

In 2004, scientists on the German ship F/V SONNE reported asphalt volcanoes 3,000 meters deep in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Other reports confirmed similar asphalt volcanoes off the coast of California and West Africa.

Although the asphalt volcano appears to be dormant at the moment, the size of its "petals" suggest that there still may be more asphalt below waiting to ooze onto the ocean floor, the NOAA reported.

Video below via Daily Mail.

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