What is a Seamount?

Yesterday, the JOIDES Resolution set sail from Auckland, New Zealand into the Pacific Ocean to drill on the seamounts of the Louisville Seamount trail. This may cause you to ask a lot of questions, one of which probably is: what in the world is a seamount?

If you think about the name "seamount" (sea - mount), you can probably come up with a good guess. Seamounts are mountains in the sea, some of which can tower 9 kilometers above the ocean floor (over 5.5 miles high!). Not only are they mountains, seamounts are also underwater volcanoes made up of lava rocks such as basalt.

In the really deep water where seamounts are found, the pressure of the water above can be so heavy that it is like an elephant is sitting on your head. Because this makes it difficult to explore the deep ocean floor, there is still a lot we do not know about seamounts.  The ability of the JOIDES Resolution to drill deep ocean floor will allow us to bring up the lava rock of seamounts for scientists to study and learn more about how seamounts are created.

To find out more about seamounts and the scientists onboard who are studying them, continue to read this blobfish blog listed under the name "JR junior."


The Blobfish




Great question! There are

Great question! There are many reasons to drill on seamounts. The main reason we are here is because seamounts are old volcanoes that were formed from lava that probably came directly from the mantle. By looking at the volcanic rocks and running tests to find out what is in them, the scientists learn about what the inside of the earth is like, something we do not know much about. Other scientists onboard are studying different things. Some of the paleontologists are interested in the fossils we find in the seamount rock, as they can use these to find out what climate and habitats were like in this part of the world millions of years ago. Other scientists are studying how water travels through seamounts as this can actually help us understand how earthquakes occur. Our microbiologist is learning what kinds of living things are inside of the seamounts. We have almost 30 scientists onboard and each of them will be able to help us all learn new things because we are drilling the seamount.