There are holes in the ocean floor and scientists are baffled

They look mechanical, like a row of stitching, but no one knows why or how it has occurred
What is the meaning of these holes? (NOAA)


Yesterday we wrote about a mysterious sinkhole that has appeared in Chile. So for today, we thought we'd keep the 'Strange Holes In The Ground' theme going and look at another baffling example.

Only these holes are tiny, all in a row, and at the bottom of the ocean!

Discovered in a part of the northern Atlantic Ocean, just north of the Azores Islands, these holes are very deep under the sea. They have been found in two locations, between 1,500 and 2,500 metres (4,900 and 8,200 feet) deep. That's a long way down!

Embed from Getty Images

The Azores is a group of remote islands in the north Atlantic Ocean. The holes were found on the seafloor nearby. (Getty Embed)

The holes are rectangular in shape, about a couple centimetres in length, and happen about 10 cm (2.5 inches) apart. They also repeat in consistent lines for several metres. That's really quite something!

So how is this possible?

Send in your ideas!

Ever since the discovery was made by researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the scientists have been sharing the images with the public and looking for ideas about how these holes were formed.

Some ideas that people have had range from the footprints of some kind of walking fish to a rogue spiky tire that somehow fell to the ocean floor.

In an interview with CBC Radio's As It Happens, NOAA scientist Mike Vecchione said that he thinks that these holes were made by an animal just under the seafloor.

"I think what's happening is that there's an animal burrowing in the sediment [sand and material settled on the ocean floor], under the surface of the sediment," he said, "and (it's) periodically punching chimneys up to where the water is, maybe to get clean water circulating through its burrow."

Still only guesses

That seems as reasonable a guess as any other. After all, the holes always appear in a line and happen in a regular pattern. It would make sense that they are following a tunnel being dug just underground. The neat little mound of sediment piled around each hole also suggests digging.

But then there is the odd shape of the holes. Why are they rectangular and not circular, as most holes like this would be?

"It looks a little bit like a sewing machine punched its way through the bottom," says Vecchione, who is still hoping to find the answer. "It's been weeks now and all I'm getting is guesses from people and nothing solid."

In the end, this story emphasizes a point that we have been making a lot lately on this site.

The deep sea is full of mystery!


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