Article by: Elizabeth Pyshnik
North of Australia, and a bit southwest of the tiny island of Guam, a new underwater geological feature was discovered in November of 2014. The underwater mountain was discovered by a team of researchers who initially set out to explore the Mariana Trench. The mountain has been reported to be 2,100 meters tall, and 16 kilometers long, at a depth of 6,500 meters below sea level.
This feature comes close in height to the tallest known seamount, which lies to the west of the California coast; the Davidson Seamount rises to 2,280 meters tall. This new seamount though, is one of the deepest known at a depth of 8,700 meters. Another discovery made by the team while on this cruise was of the deepest ocean dwelling fish: the “ghost” fish. This fish lives around the Falkor Seamount and was found at a depth of 8,145 meters below sea level. The amusing part is that the scientists found the fish first, and then the massive underwater mountain. Though the fish doesn’t have an average size reported at the moment, in video footage it appears to be very small.
The feature has been given the name of the Falkor Seamount, after the name of the ship that led to its discovery. The UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the International Hydrographic Organization approved the name. It is a very fitting name, because the vessel is a model of what Schmidt Ocean Institute seeks to provide scientists in the near future: a ship to explore the oceans and retrieve high quality data at no costs to scientists.
The advanced remote sensing techniques used aboard the R/V Falkor vessel are what allowed the scientists to detect this large underwater landform. A big takeaway the scientists on this mission reported was being shocked at how little humans understand about the oceans. Underwater mapping will inevitably become necessary as the climate continues to change. No doubt there is much knowledge to gain by studying the ecology of changing ocean ecosystems and continuing to learn about the creatures that live there.
Newly-Discovered Seamount Named after Research Vessel Falkor. Sci-news.com, 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.