New Hampshire Scientists Discover 100-year-old Giant Mountain in Pacific Ocean


University of New Hampshire scientists have discovered a new seamount near the Johnson Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. The summit of the seamount rises 1,100 meters from the 5,100-meter-deep ocean floor.

Seamounts - rocky leftovers from extinct, underwater volcanoes - are normally found on ocean floors around the world. Formed due to volcanic activity, Seamounts can either be found near plate boundaries or in the middle of plates (hot spot areas).

Previous studies showed that these underwater mountains host diverse marine life like commercially important fish species, Live Science reports.

The newly-uncovered unnamed massive mountain, located about 300 kilometers southeast of the uninhabited Jarvis Island, was found in one of the least explored areas of the central Pacific Ocean.

"These seamounts are very common, but we don't know about them because most of the places that we go out and map have never been mapped before," James Gardner, research professor in the UNH-NOAA Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center, said in a press release. "It's probably 100 million years old and it might have something in it we may be interested in 100 years from now."

Low-resolution satellite data, currently used to map the Earth's sea floor, does not capture seamounts of this size. But, advanced multibeam echosounder missions like this one can. "Satellites just can't see these features and we can," Gardner said.

The discovery was made in August during a seafloor mapping mission to outline the outer limits of the U.S. continental shelf.

The group aboard the R/V Kilo Moana, a 186-foot (57 meter) vessel owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the University of Hawaii Marine Center, were using multibeam echosounder technology to generate detailed images of the seafloor when, late at night, the ancient extinct giant volcano appeared "out of the blue".

Although Mount Everest holds the record for Earth's highest mountain, the tallest elevation in the world is actually a seamount. Hawaii's Mauna Kea, a latent volcano, is 10,200 meters (base to peak) tall when compared to Everest's 8,850 meters. Only 4,000 meters of Mauna Kea is above sea level, RT reports.

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