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The Amazing Truth About The Lost City, and What It Reveals About Underwater Mountains
Close-up of serpentinite rock. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

15. The Lack Of Metals Creates Unique Chemical Reactions

Perhaps the most notable chemical reaction that occurs at the Lost City is known as “serpentinization.” Despite the sound of the name, serpentinization has nothing to do with Harry Potter. Rather, it refers to the production of rocks that have a green, scaly surface, similar to the skin of a serpent.

The serpentinization that occurs at the vents is known as ultramafic-hosted serpentinization. This process leads to the creation of hydrocarbons and other molecules that some scientists believe are the source of abiotic genesis.

The Amazing Truth About The Lost City, and What It Reveals About Underwater Mountains
Image of Poseidon. Photo Credit: NASA

16. The Largest Vent Chimney Is Known As “Poseidon”

Poseidon is nearly 200 feet tall, making it the most prominent and easily recognizable feature of Lost City. Poseidon is actually crowned by four smaller chimneys that have formed by the tens of thousands of years of heated, mineral-rich water being emitted by its source vent.

Surrounding Poseidon is buttresses of smaller chimneys and other deposits that have built up around it. It basically looks like a giant cave formation – like stalactites and stalagmites that were formed by centuries or even millennia of dripping water.

The Amazing Truth About The Lost City, and What It Reveals About Underwater Mountains
The vents break the mercury. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

17. The Temperatures Of The Emissions Are Up To 91 Celsius

The temperatures at the vents are incredibly high. The coolest temperatures are around 40 degrees Celsius, which is well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The boiling point is 100 degrees Celsius, so for the temperatures at the vents to hit 91 degrees means that the water coming out is basically steam.

That life can thrive in this intensely hot environment is nothing short of remarkable. Keep in mind, though, that large life forms – such as crabs, eels, and fish – while present, are not abundant. Most life at the vents is microscopic, less than 1 centimeter across.

The Amazing Truth About The Lost City, and What It Reveals About Underwater Mountains
Chemical structure of some common hydrocarbons. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

18. One Result Of The Chemical Reaction Is The Synthesis Of Hydrocarbons

Hydrocarbons are molecules composed only of carbon and hydrogen molecules. One hydrocarbon that is particularly dominant at the Lost City is methane, which consists of one carbon molecule joined to four hydrogen molecules. Hydrocarbons are important because they are part of the process of serpentinization, which gives the Lost City its characteristic white chimneys.

You are probably more familiar with hydrocarbons than you think. Petroleum and other fossil fuels are composed of hydrocarbons. Additionally, some chains of hydrocarbons are known as fats. The classification of “saturated” or “unsaturated” refers to the number of single- or double-hydrogen bonds in the hydrocarbons.

The Amazing Truth About The Lost City, and What It Reveals About Underwater Mountains
Sample hydrocarbon structure. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

19. Some Scientists See Hydrocarbons As Evidence For Abiogenesis

Scientists believe that abiotic generation, also known as abiogenesis, of hydrocarbons may occur at the vents of the Lost City. Some evidence suggests that hydrocarbons with low molecular weight may be synthesized at the vents, through a unique type of reaction that occurs at the basement rocks.

Scientists believe that the abiogenesis of hydrocarbons could be evidence of the abiotic generation of life, meaning life emerging from non-living matter. Hydrocarbons are an essential component of DNA, the building block of life. DNA is a molecule that is able to replicate itself, so it is possibly the smallest, most basic form of life.

The Amazing Truth About The Lost City, and What It Reveals About Underwater Mountains
Structure of DNA. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

20. Other Scientists Aren’t So Sure

Some scientists think that the abiotic genesis of low-weight hydrocarbons is not necessarily evidenced for the abiotic genesis of life. There is a large leap from the generation of low-weight hydrocarbons, such as methane, and the generation of DNA molecules.

Microscopic forms of life do exist at the vents, and some of the lifeforms there do not exist anywhere else that we know of. However, there may be other ways to explain their presence, such as the genetic mutation that enable them to thrive in the extreme environment of the vents.

The Amazing Truth About The Lost City, and What It Reveals About Underwater Mountains
Abiogenesis would require DNA to form. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

21. Abiogenesis Is An Aspect Of Darwinian Evolution

Abiogenesis is the process of life deriving from non-life material. Charles Darwin was concerned primarily about where species come from and devised his theory of evolution to show that there are species that derive from common ancestors. They differentiate to adapt to their environments through the idea of “survival of the fittest,” thereby developing into the different species that we see today.

Other scientists have since taken his theory to show that life is derived from non-living matter, such as molecules that organize themselves into amino acids and DNA. To better understand this process of abiogenesis, many scientists have been studying the Lost City.

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