Could the Lost City of Atlantis Exist? Ocean Mapping Reveals Likelihood of Legendary City

March 3, 2018
By Dana Dovey

It’s exciting to believe in legends and myths, which is part of the reason why the legend of the Lost City of Atlantis has persisted for so long. However, science and technology shows that it’s time to finally put this tale to rest. The Lost City of Atlantis is a fun topic—but one that is purely fictional.

According to Seth Stein, a professor at Northwestern University who specializes in plate tectonics and earth science, one of the strongest reasons to dispel Atlantis as a true ancient civilization is the fact that we haven't found it.

Today’s ocean mapping is extremely advanced. Scientists use sonar techniques that send out sound pulses to measure the water’s depth order to “see” the bottom of the ocean. The entire ocean floor has been mapped using this technique, Stein told Newsweek, and Atlantis has not shown up. (Theories abound about where exactly Atlantis was located.)

“We’ve got pretty good maps of the Atlantic ocean and there are no signs of a continent there,” said Stein. “If there was a lost continent, it would long since have been mapped.” The same goes for the rest of the oceans.

And even if by some chance this sophisticated mapping technology missed the sunken city, its existence is still scientifically impossible. According to Stein, less dense objects simply cannot sink into more dense objects. Put in more specific terms, it is impossible for a continent to sink into the ocean.

The rise and fall of sea level over time can cause islands to seemingly disappear. These islands haven't sunk, they're just temporarily covered with water.  Islands can also erode, a process that occurs when natural elements, such as the weather and the ocean, wear away at earth. But erosion cannot explain a continent disappearing.

The story of Atlantis may have originated not as historical fiction but as a fable. The first telling of Atlantis can be traced back to Plato in about 330 B.C. and may have been created to teach a moral lesson. The people of Atlantis, though advanced, were greedy, and this may have led to their downfall, Live Science reported.

For now, we can be assured based on much scientific proof that Atlantis does not and never has existed. That doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun playing along with the legend from time to time.