The site, which consists of doughnut-shaped structures and paved floors is actually just a naturally-occurring geological phenomenon, scientists have determined. Adventurers and treasure hunters may be dismayed to find out a supposed sunken city discovered off the coast of Greece is not as it seems.
Discovered by divers close to Alikanas Bay in Greece, the site was believed to be the ruins of a lost civilization hidden beneath the waves.
“The site was discovered by snorkelers and first thought to be an ancient city port, lost to the sea. There were what superficially looked like circular column bases, and paved floors. But mysteriously no other signs of life – such as pottery,” explained Professor Julian Andrews from the University of East Anglia (UEA) .
Archaeologists at the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of Greece examined the ‘ruins’ and, along with help from UEA determined they were actually rock formations created by escaping methane.
Read more: Sunken city known as ‘Britain’s Atlantis’ was swept into the sea by years of violent storms
Dated as anything up to five million years old, the structures are believed to be the fossilised remains of natural seeps in the sea floor from which methane and other hydrocarbons escaped.
Microbes in the sediment used the carbon inside the methane as a fuel to create a natural cement that formed the weirdly-shaped rocks.
“The disk and doughnut morphology, which looked a bit like circular column bases, is typical of mineralization at hydrocarbon seeps – seen both in modern seafloor and palaeo settings,” said Prof Andrews.
“Microbe-driven oxidation of the methane then changes the chemistry of the sediment forming a kind of natural cement, known to geologists as concretion.
“In this case the cement was an unusual mineral called dolomite which rarely forms in seawater, but can be quite common in microbe-rich sediments.”
What makes this find particularly interesting is that these types of formations tend to be found much farther out at sea in deeper water.
They are usually found hundreds, if not thousands, of meters underwater.
But, more importantly, there’s sadly no chance of finding any sunken treasure here.