Background essays are written by explorers involved in a specific expedition in order to provide further background on specific topic areas associated with the expedition. Below are selected essays focused on seamounts.
The Birth, Life, and Death of Pacific Guyot Seamounts
This essay describes the life cycle of seamounts in the Pacific Ocean in relation to plate tectonics, from birth at a hotspot to death in a subduction zone.
Guyots: Intriguing Flat-topped Seamounts that Host a Diversity of Habitats for Deepwater Animals
Seamounts that erupt and grow to reach the surface have their conical tops flattened as a result of both erosion and coral reef growth. When these flat-topped seamounts eventually sink back down to deep water, they are called Guyots.
Geologic Overview of the West Pacific
The West Pacific Ocean is underlain by some of the oldest seafloor in the world, and it hosts a large number of submarine volcanoes, referred to as seamounts. These seamounts are typically formed by small extents of melting in the Earth’s mantle, which may occur in several different geologic settings. In one of those settings, the so-called hotspots, a chain of volcanoes forms as the Earth’s tectonic plates move over areas in the Earth’s mantle that are thought to be anomalously hot.
Deep Sea Fauna of the Marianas – Isolated or Connected
This Mission Log explores the large circle of organism distribution and connection among the Mariana region, the Northwest Pacific, the East China Sea, and Japan.
Why Are Seamounts Hotspots for Biodiversity?
With structure for animals to settle and live on and currents supplying food and nutrients, the variety of life, or biodiversity, at seamounts is often rather high.
Seamounts: Underwater Islands of the Pacific
An overview of seamount age, geology and biological complexity by seamount expert, Dr. Les Watling.
New England Seamount Chain 2013
The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer conducted seafloor and water column mapping operations in the Western North Atlantic Ocean over a portion of the New England Seamount Chain from June 11-29, 2013.
Geology of Davidson Seamount
Davidson Seamount is one of a group of submarine volcanoes off the continental margin offshore central California, between Lat 37.5° and Lat 34.0°. Davidson Seamount -- along with Guide, Pioneer, Gumdrop, and Rodriguez -- differ morphologically from typical ocean island volcanoes.
Seamount Fact Sheet
Seamounts are often remnants of extinct volcanoes and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The technical definition of a seamount states that it should rise over 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) above the surrounding seafloor. Because they never break the water surface, seamounts are not islands.
This section provides direct access to selected lessons about seamounts developed by scientists and educators during Ocean Explorer field seasons. These lessons are geared toward students in Grades 5-12. Presented here as Web-based education materials, each lesson corresponds with a specific ocean exploration and can be supplemented with daily logs prepared by scientists and educators during each mission at sea. Additional lessons on seamounts can be found using the Lesson Plan search feature.
Older lessons are aligned to the National Science Education Standards and newer lessons support the Next Generation Science Standards (and their associated Common Core Standards). All lessons from 2006 to the present also support the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts. Note: The web links provided in lessons are verified at the time of publication, but over time, some links may change or become obsolete.
Mapping Deep Sea Features
Bathymetric mapping of deep-sea habitats
Students will create a two-dimensional contour map from actual bathymetric survey data. Students will create a three-dimensional model of the landform on the underwater contour map they created.
Easy as Pi
Focus: Structural complexity in benthic habitats
Students will be able to describe the importance of structural features that increase surface area in benthic habitats. Students will be able to quantify the relative impact of various structural modifications on surface area in model habitats. Students will be able to give examples of organisms that increase the structural complexity of their communities.
Dispersal of benthic invertebrate larvae
Students will be able to explain the meaning of "larval dispersal" and "larval retention." Students will be able to explain the importance of larval dispersal and larval retention to populations of organisms in the marine environment. Given data on recruitment of organisms to artificial substrates, students will be able to draw inferences about larval dispersal in these species.
Big Fleas have Little Fleas
Students will recognize that natural structures and systems often display recurrent complexity over many scales of measurement. Students will be able to infer the importance of structural complexity to species diversity and abundance in benthic habitats. Students will be able to discuss ways that octocorals may modify seamount habitats to make these habitats more suitable for other species. Students create a Sierpinski Triangle.
Round and Round
Circulation cells in the vicinity of seamounts
Students will be able to interpret data from a three-dimensional array of current monitors to infer an overall pattern of water circulation. Students will be able to hypothesize what effect an observed water circulation pattern might have on seamount fauna that reproduce by means of floating larvae. Students will be able to describe the importance of measurements to verify theoretical predictions. Students create current models.
Watching in 3-D
Students will explain how multibeam sonar uses the properties of sound waves in water for scientific research about topography of the ocean floor. Students will analyze and interpret multibeam sonar data to identify patterns in the distribution of seafloor features that contribute to scientific research about large scale interactions in Earth’s systems. Students explore a seamount using free Fledermaus mapping software.
Digital Atlas and Mytilus Seamount
To supplement the Watching in 3-D lesson, the following activities describe how geographical and mapping data marry with expedition website data and selected interactive Fledermaus scene files from key discoveries. The Digital Atlas can be used to obtain information about past NOAA Ocean Explorer expeditions, education resources associated with the expeditions, ship tracks, bathymetric maps, dive tracks, and more.
How to Use the Ocean Explorer Digital Atlas
Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013: Mytilus Seamount
Observando en 3D
Sonar multihaz (Ciencias físicas/Ciencias de la Tierra)
Los estudiantes explican cómo el sonar multihaz utiliza las propiedades de las ondas sonoras en el agua para la investigación científica acerca de la topografía del fondo oceánico. Los estudiantes analizarán e interpretarán datos de sonar multihaz para identificar patrones en la distribución de las características del fondo marino, que contribuyen a la investigación científica acerca de las interacciones a gran escala en los sistemas de la Tierra.
Actividad práctica: manipulación y análisis de imágenes mapeadas con software gratis
Multimedia Discovery Missions (MDMs) are interactive multimedia presentations and learning activities that address topics ranging from Chemosynthesis and Hydrothermal Vent Life and Deep-sea Benthos to Food, Water and Medicine from the Sea. Each MDM includes a 7-9 minute animated Lesson, a 4-5 minute animation on Global Impacts, and three interactive activities.
Below are links to a few selected videos and images of seamounts from previous Ocean Explorer expeditions.
Diving on a previously unknown seamount
During the 2014 Our Deepwater Backyard: Exploring Atlantic Canyons and Seamounts Expedition, scientists mapped a star shaped seamount for the first time.
Swordfish Seamount and the Oxygen Minimum Zone.
Slime Star near Puerto Rico
This slime star was discovered off of Puerto Rico in 2015.
Sea Star aggregation
While exploring the deepwaters off of Hawaii in 2016, the Deep Discoverer ROV came across a large aggregations of brisingid sea stars.
Jellyfish at Enigma Seamount EX 1603
This stunningly beautiful jellyfish was seen on April 24, 2016, while exploring the informally named "Enigma Seamount".
Mapping the Ocean
Hawaii has been an integral part in developing our theory of plate tectonics for geologists.
Geology on the Ocean Floor
Mapping the seafloor can reveal features, such as seamounts, that we didn't even know existed before.
Composite image showing bathymetry data
Composite image showing satellite-derived bathymetry data at the bottom.
Podcast interview with Dr. Peter Etnoyer, NOAA marine biologist
A new estimate suggests that these massive underwater mountains collectively form one of the largest habitats on Earth.
Seamounts, Les Watling Ph.D., University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Dr. Les Watling, marine scientist at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, describes the formation of seamounts, their geology and their associated ecological and biological diversity in the 45 minute interview.
Okeanos Explorer Northeast US Canyons Expedition 2013
This 20 minute video taken by the ROV Deep Discoverer shows several highlights from the expedition.
Gulf of Alaska 2002
View colorful highlights of deep-sea marine life from the Gulf of Alaska in 2002, including fan corals, vase sponges, basket stars and squid. This video comes from a NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration mission to study unexplored seamounts in the Gulf of Alaska.
Mytilus Seamount Sponge
Sponges are abundant and diverse at Mytilus Seamount. Notice this large “witch’s hat” sponge provides structure for numerous hexactinellid or glass sponges as well as some orange brittle stars.
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Expedition 2003
In 2003 Scientists completed a 64-day cruise to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, onboard the University of Hawaii's Research Vessel, Ka'imikai-o-Kanaloa, and the Pisces IV and V Submersibles. They studied the regions virtually unexplored deep-sea corals, submarine canyons, and seamounts.
Mytilus Seamount Jasonisis
Corals were diverse on Mytilus Seamount, but composition and abundance of corals differed between the north and south side of the seamount. We observed this colony of Jasonisis, a bamboo coral, with numerous crinoid associates.
OceanAGE Careers Connections
The Ocean Careers to Inspire Another Generation of Explorers, or OceanAGE Careers webpage, invites students to learn about the talented people who explore our ocean planet. From underwater pilots to research scientists, these marine explorers provide students with first-hand knowledge of exciting careers through videotaped interviews and written profiles. Here is one explorer who studies seamounts.
Dr. Tim Shank
The above items are only a selection of Seamounts content on our website.