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article imageAncient volcano found hiding in Pacific Ocean

By Karen Graham     Sep 5, 2014 in Science
Hidden beneath the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, about 186 miles southeast of Jarvis Island and 3.2 miles beneath the surface, lies a massive mountain. The seamount rises up off the seafloor two-thirds of a mile high.
Researchers mapping the U.S. continental shelf close by discovered the seamount, the rocky remains of an ancient extinct volcano, quite by accident. Jarvis Island is an uninhabited coral island about halfway between the Hawaiian Islands and the Cook Islands.
Research professor James Gardner, with the University of New Hampshire, works at the university's NOAA Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center. He said in a statement: "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."
On Aug. 13  2014  University of New Hampshire scientists aboard the research vessel Kilo Moana (show...
On Aug. 13, 2014, University of New Hampshire scientists aboard the research vessel Kilo Moana (shown here) discovered a new seamount on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
U.S. Navy/University of Hawaii at Moano
The team had been aboard the U.S. Navy research ship Kilo Moano, working with the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Task Force. The goal of the task force was to determine the outer limits of the U.S. continental shelf in an area of the Pacific Ocean previously unexplored. The research team found the as yet unnamed seamount on August 13, only five days after starting on the mapping project.
The seamount lies within the U.S. exclusive economic zone, so this means the U.S. retains jurisdiction over the waters above the volcano as well as sediment and rocks of the seamount itself. The economic impact of the seamount is unknown at this time, but because of its depth, it does not pose any navigation hazard. It is also too deep to be an ecosystem that would provide any rich fisheries. Gardner thinks the ancient volcanic remains may be at least 100 million years old.
The newly discovered seamount rises up some 3 600 feet (1 100 meters) from the seafloor near the Joh...
The newly discovered seamount rises up some 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) from the seafloor near the Johnston Atoll, at a depth of about 16,730 feet .
Image courtesy of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center.
Seamounts are defined as a mountain that rises from the seabed. They are usually the remains of ancient volcanos, long extinct that have risen abruptly to heights of from 2,200 to 13,000 feet in elevation. Scientists estimate that there are over 100,000 seamounts lurking in the ocean's depths, but very few have been studied.
What makes seamounts so interesting is that they have formed their own ecosystems, making use of ocean currents and their elevation off the sea floor, they often become a natural habitat for plankton, corals, fish, and marine mammals.
More about Meamounts, Continental shelf, Jarvis Island, ancient volcano, Pacific ocean
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