Ocean Floor Surveyors Uncover a Large New Underwater Mountain in International Seas Near Guatemala

Image credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute

Ocean Floor Surveyors Uncover a Large New Underwater Mountain in International Seas Near Guatemala

During an expedition by the Schmidt Ocean Institute in the Pacific Ocean, scientists mapping the ocean’s depths identified a colossal underwater mountain, twice the height of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure. This discovery occurred in international waters near Guatemala.

The newly found seamount, towering at 1,600 meters (5,249 feet) and spreading over an area of 14 square kilometers (5.41 square miles), is situated 2,400 meters (7,874 feet) beneath the ocean surface.

This significant underwater feature was detected using the EM124 multibeam echosounder aboard the Falkor, the institute’s research vessel. The discovery was made 84 nautical miles (155.6km) from the Guatemalan Exclusive Economic Zone. It occurred during a six-day journey this summer, which started in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, and was directed towards the East Pacific Rise.

The on-board team of the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s expedition included a hydrographic expert trained by the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), who verified that this newly discovered seamount is not listed in any existing seafloor bathymetric databases.

Seamounts are known to be biodiversity hotspots, serving as habitats for deep-sea corals, sponges, and various invertebrates. According to NOAA Ocean Exploration, over 100,000 yet-to-be-explored seamounts exceed 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) in height, as suggested by recent satellite-based analyses.

The ongoing exploration and mapping of the deep sea are crucial for creating more precise and high-resolution maps. These maps are instrumental in guiding scientific research and future discoveries and enhancing our understanding of the Earth’s geological processes.

Dr. Jyotika Virmani, the Executive Director of the Schmidt Ocean Institute, stated:

“A seamount over 1.5 kilometers tall which has, until now, been hidden under the waves really highlights how much we have yet to discover. 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!”

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