Saturday, November 25, 2023
In the Pacific Ocean, scientists have discovered a gigantic undersea mountain that was previously undiscovered rising 5,249 feet above the ocean surface and is about twice as tall as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is now the highest structure in the world.
The mountain, also referred to as a seamount, peaks at a depth of around 7,900 feet and is located about 13,100 feet below sea level.
An expedition led by the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI) located the seamount around 84 miles beyond Guatemala's exclusive economic zone in international seas.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines seamounts as underwater mountains rising from the ocean floor with steep slopes. Seamounts are often cone-shaped and represent the remains of ancient volcanoes.
There are several of these undersea geological structures in every ocean basin on the planet, however, the precise number is unknown. More than 100,000 seamounts are estimated to exist that are at least 1,000 metres (3,280 ft) high. However, only a few of these have been investigated.
The EM124 multibeam echo sounder on the research vessel Falkor (too) was used to study the seamount discovered by the most recent SOI trip. High-resolution mapping of the seabed may be accomplished using this equipment.
An expert on board verified that the seamount was not currently included in any ocean floor databases after the echo sounder detected it. According to the data, the submerged mountain spans an area of more than five square miles.
"A seamount over 1.5 kilometers [0.9 miles] tall which has, until now, been hidden under the waves really highlights how much we have yet to discover," Jyotika Virmani, executive director of SOI, said in a press release.
"A complete seafloor map is a fundamental element of understanding our ocean so it's exciting to be living in an era where technology allows us to map and see these amazing parts of our planet for the first time!"
Seamounts are hotspots for biodiversity because they offer a surface on which a variety of crustaceans, sponges, and deep-sea corals may settle and thrive. Other animals then receive sustenance from these creatures.
Unique organisms that are only found in one place frequently live in seamount habitats.
Since its launch in March, the research vessel Falkor (also) has found three seamounts, the most recent of which is the third. The Galápagos Islands Marine Reserve is home to the two previously mentioned attractions. During this period, the ship also discovered two unspoiled cold-water coral reefs, three new hydrothermal vent fields, and a novel ecosystem underneath hydrothermal vents.
"On every expedition, those aboard Falkor (too) have found the unexpected, the awe-inspiring, the new," Wendy Schmidt, co-founder and president of SOI, said in the press release. "While there is so much we've come to understand as discoveries tumble ever faster into view, so much remains unknown in our ocean—and we are thrilled to continue exploring."
Uncharted seabed territory has to be mapped and explored in order to fully comprehend our planet.
The Seabed 2030 programme, of which SOI is a partner, has set the lofty aim of mapping the whole seabed by 2030.
"Yet another breathtaking discovery by the team onboard Falkor (too)," Jamie McMichael-Phillips, director of the Seabed 2030 Project, said in the press release. "We are hugely grateful to all at SOI for sharing essential information that will move us further towards our goal of delivering 100 percent seafloor mapping by the end of the decade."