Seamounts

Background Information

Below you will find a collection of fact sheets, content essays, and stories from our explorers on board seamounts expeditions featured on the OceanExplorer.NOAA.gov website.

Seamount Fact Sheet

What is a seamount?

Ocean Exploration Fact. 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.

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Why Are Seamounts Hotspots for Biodiversity?

Why Are Seamounts Hotspots for Biodiversity?

Ocean Exploration Fact. 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.

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The Birth, Life, and Death of Pacific Guyot Seamounts

The Birth, Life, and Death of Pacific Guyot Seamounts

From the 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition. 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.

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Guyots: Intriguing Flat-topped Seamounts that Host a Diversity of Habitats for Deepwater Animals

Guyots: Intriguing Flat-topped Seamounts that Host a Diversity of Habitats for Deepwater Animals

From the Deepwater Wonders of Wake expedition. 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.

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Geologic Overview of the West Pacific

Geologic Overview of the West Pacific

From the Deepwater Wonders of Wake expedition. 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.

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Deep Sea Fauna of the Marianas — Isolated or Connected

Deep Sea Fauna of the Marianas — Isolated or Connected?

From the Deepwater Wonders of Wake expedition. 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.

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Seamounts: Underwater Islands of the Pacific

Seamounts: Underwater Islands of the Pacific

From the 2015 Hohonu Moana: Exploring Deep Waters off Hawaiʻi expedition. An overview of seamount age, geology and biological complexity by seamount expert, Dr. Les Watling.

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New England Seamount Chain 2013

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: New England Seamount Chain Exploration

From the New England Seamount Chain Exploration expedition. 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.

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How Did They Get There?

How Did They Get There?

Marine biogeographers examine the historical, geological, ecological, and environmental factors that influence the distribution of life in the ocean. This research helps to explain why species are found in particular places and not in others.

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The above items are only a selection of the educational materials highlighting seamounts on our website.

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