Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Yul from Seoul. Yul Wonders, “Where are the sunken cities?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Yul!

Many of our Wonder Friends know all about the lost city of Atlantis. The story fascinates people. And it’s easy to see why! A great city. A huge disaster. An entire civilization lost beneath the waves. The ancient tale of Atlantis has been told for centuries.

But is the story true? Did Atlantis sink into the ocean? Probably not. In fact, most people today don’t think Atlantis ever existed. Still, other sunken cities are very much a reality.

Where are these sunken cities? They’re all over the world! From Greece to Egypt, Italy, and Jamaica, several cities have sunk beneath the waves. What caused them to do so? Experts say natural disasters are to blame.

The oldest known sunken city is Pavlopetri, Greece. Experts began studying its ruins in 1967. Pottery from the site dated back to 3000 BCE. Later, they found that the city likely sank after a series of earthquakes around 1000 BCE.

Pavlopetri wasn’t the only city sunk by earthquakes. The same thing happened to Port Royal in Jamaica. In 1692, the ocean claimed about two-thirds of the city. The remaining third is still above water.

Of course, earthquakes aren’t the only disasters to blame. Volcanic activity caused half of Baiae, Italy, to sink. A tsunami drove Helike, Greece, underwater. Dunwich, England, sank after large storms eroded its shore. A landslide may have caused the collapse of Olous, Greece.

Two sunken cities in Egypt have recently risen in fame. Their names are Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus. Rising sea level and earthquakes both played a part in putting them more than 30 feet underwater. Today, divers can still see the cities’ ancient statues. Even Cleopatra’s palace still stands below the surface.

Did you know cities are still sinking today? It’s true. Many experts point to natural causes and rapidly rising sea levels. A few cities most at-risk are Venice, Italy; Tehran, Iran; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; Alexandria, Egypt; and Jakarta, Indonesia. NASA also points to the San Joaquin Valley in California as an area of concern.

Will these cities one day sink into the ocean? Only time will tell. Many people are working on ways to save these places from a watery fate. How would you go about stopping an entire city from sinking below the waves? Put on your thinking cap—the solution could come from you!

Standards: NGSS.ESS1.C, NGSS.ESS2.C, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

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