An extinct volcano towering 1,600 meters was discovered beneath the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Photo/Schmidt Ocean Institute
GUATEMALA CITY – An extinct volcano rising 5,250 feet (1,600 meters) was discovered under the waters of the Pacific Ocean. This discovery was first documented by Schmidt Ocean Institute scientists on the research vessel Falkor off the coast of Guatemala.
Scientists discovered this cone-shaped seamount 7,870 feet (2,400 meters) below sea level during an expedition this summer. This 5,250-foot (1,600-meter) formation is a seamount twice as large as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building hidden deep beneath the waves.
“The seamount more than 1.6 kilometers high which until now was hidden beneath the waves really shows how much we have yet to discover,” said Jyotika Virmani, executive director of the Schmidt Ocean Institute, quoted by SINDOnews from the Live Science page, Friday ( 11/24/2023).
This towering feature covers an area of 14 square kilometers and is in international waters in the Pacific Ocean, about 156 kilometers from Guatemalan waters. Researchers detected the seamount using multibeam sonar mapping during a six-day crossing from Costa Rica to the East Pacific Rise.
It is the boundary between six tectonic plates, including the Pacific plate to the west and the North American plate to the northeast. Seamounts are found on most of the seabed covered in loose, muddy sediment and provide a rocky habitat for deep sea corals, sponges and a number of invertebrates.
“Seamounts can be too steep for mud to grow on, and some animals actually thrive on their sides. “When a fish appears, it creates a strong current for the filter feeder fish to grow into the water and catch food,” said Jon Copley, professor of deep sea ecology and marine exploration at the University of Southampton in England.
Satellite data shows there are more than 100,000 unexplored seamounts that will be revealed through ongoing seafloor mapping. “Complete seafloor maps are a fundamental element for understanding our oceans,” Virmani said.
In April, a research team on a Schmidt Ocean Institute mapping expedition aboard the Falkor (also) revealed three new hydrothermal vent fields on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. In August, they announced the existence of a hidden underground world filled with sea creatures in the East Pacific Rise.
Scientists aboard the same ship also recently discovered two uncharted seamounts and a pristine coral reef near the Galápagos Islands. “It’s exciting to live in an era where technology allows us to map and see amazing parts of our planet for the first time!” Virmani continued.