Scientists were surprised to learn that instead of finding a ship they were looking for, they’d located a very unique volcano.
When scientists first spotted a huge mass at the bottom of the northern Gulf of Mexico they were sure they’d found one of the wrecked ships they’d been looking for.
Closer examination proved that to not be the case.
Rather than finding another of the vessels that sank off the shores of Texas hundreds of years ago, they found a very unique volcano.
It was about the size of a ship, and close inspection via a camera-equipped underwater robot revealed that it was shaped like an enormous flower and made out of tar.
Officially known as asphalt volcanoes, the team then coined the name tar lilies for these rare underwater features.
They operate sort of like the lava ones, but instead of spitting molten earth, a black, gooey substance appears.
When the hot tar erupts from the ocean floor and comes into contact with the deep, cool water the oily material solidifies.
Thus, the fountain-like shape of the eruption itself is preserved.
Very few examples of the phenomenon have been seen, but several are in the southern Gulf of Mexico.