Wednesday, April 10th 2019, 3:48 pm - It's real and it's spectacular.
It may look like a computer animation or something you'd see in an image beamed back from a space probe, but the stunning ecosystem you're witnessing in the video above can be found right here on earth.
Researchers from the University of Georgia happened upon the otherworldly scene while exploring hydrothermal vents deep in the Gulf of California.
The large expanse of venting mineral towers reaches heights of up to 23 metres and widths of 10 metres. Beneath the structures are hydrothermal fluids that reach temperatures of 366 degrees Celsius.
The team suspects high pressure and extreme temperatures helped carve out the towers' unique features.
Lead author Dr. Mandy Joye called the site an "amazing natural laboratory".
"It is a different world down there. Each dive feels like floating into a science fiction film," Schmidt Ocean Institute Cofounder Wendy Schmidt said in a statement.
"The complex layers of data we've collected ... will help tell the story of this remote place and bring it to public attention."
The hydrothermal vent field featured numerous volcanic flanges that create the illusion of looking at a mirror when observing the superheated (366ºC) hydrothermal fluids beneath them. The minerals across the features were laden with metals and the fluids were highly sulfidic, yet these sites were teeming with biodiversity and potentially novel fauna. (PHOTO AND CAPTION COURTESY: Schmidt Ocean Institute)
HUMAN IMPACT OBSERVED DEEP IN THE GULF
Despite being in a remote area, researchers say the area was littered with trash, including fishing nets, deflated balloons and even discarded Christmas trees.
"We are reminded that although they are out of our everyday sight, they are hardly immune from human impact," Schmidt said.
"Our hope is to inspire people to learn more and care more about our ocean."
More information on the expedition can be found at the Schmidt Ocean Institute website.