Over 15,000 huge seafloor holes have mysteriously appeared off California coast – and no one knows why
Nature & Science

Over 15,000 huge seafloor holes have mysteriously appeared off California coast – and no one knows why

THOUSANDS of strange round holes scooped out of the ocean floor have been uncovered along the coast of California.

Some measure nearly 600 feet across, but scientists are unsure how they formed.

As many as 15,000 holes have been found during an underwater survey by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

Experts were originally studying mysterious large “pockmarks” across the seafloor off the coast of California’s Big Sur region.

These strange depressions are unexplained, and average 574 across and 16 feet deep.

But the MBARI’s underwater vehicles also found more than 15,000 smaller holes, measuring 36 feet across and three feet deep.

This is a computer-generated view of one of the strange seafloor holesCredit: MBARI
This image shows the scale of size between the larger pockmarks and the smaller ‘micro-depression’ holesCredit: MBARI

Around one-third of the holes contain human waste, including “filled trash bags, 5-gallon buckets, and a storage trunk”.

And a fifth of the holes contain “exotic material”, including cobbles, kelp holdfasts and even a whale skull.

Experts believe that many of the objects were “dropped over the side of the boat”.

It’s still not clear what’s causing the holes to form in the first place.

The large pockmarks are described as having been “inactive” for more than 50,000 years.

But many of the smaller holes appear to be much newer, and may have formed in recent years.

Human waste may be causing marine life to congregate in an area, which could be carving out some of the holesCredit: MBARI

And one early theory that gases under the seafloor were bubbling up to create the holes was discarded.

“No evidence or fluid or gas venting…were found in either type of feature,” the researchers explained.

Best of all theories so far is the idea that humans might be inadvertently creating the holes with their waste.

When something drops onto the sit floor and sits there, marine life may be moving in and turning it into a home.

This could push sediment up off the sea floor and out away from the area.

And it’s this phenomenon that could be digging out holes in the sea floor – potentially over very long periods of time, for the bigger holes.

However, that doesn’t account for every single hole – and would only explain around a third of the strange formations.

“These observations imply that marine trash is at least partly responsible for approximately 4,500 of the 15,000 [holes] and provide some clues as to how the [holes] are created,” the experts noted in a study presented at the 2019 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

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In other news, more than 140 new Nazca lines have been discovered in the Peruvian desert.

Millions of litres of water mysteriously disappeared from a Scottish loch earlier this year.

Experts are racing to decode 4,000-year-old symbols carved into an ancient Scottish cave ‘before they vanish forever’.

A flooded Egyptian tomb stunned archaeologists when they drained it to find a “human soup” burial chamber.

And, an ancient mega-city dubbed ‘Bronze Age New York’ dating back 5,000 years has been unearthed in Israel.

What do you make of these mysterious holes? Let us know in the comments!

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