By: April carson
The mission team has reported the discovery of an unusual underwater mountain off the coast of California that resembles a "Bundt cake" in shape. The mountain was found by an uncrewed sailing ship while mapping the North Pacific. The unique shape of the mountain is thought to be caused by a combination of tectonic and volcanic forces.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the nameless formation measures 3,200 feet (975 meters) tall, which is slightly below the minimum height requirement for a seamount. A seamount must rise to a minimum of 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) above the surrounding seafloor. Nevertheless, oceanographers have still classified the feature as a seamount because it is an underwater mountain with steep sides that emerge from the seafloor and is a leftover of a previously active volcano.
Sometimes, mountains formed by volcanic activity appear above the ocean surface and become islands, like Hawaii. However, this particular mountain is completely underwater. Nonetheless, it boasts a visible crater that sits 1,200 feet (366 m) below sea level. Its structure and shape resemble a Bundt cake, an iconic dessert consisting of a central hole surrounded by ridges that make the cake look like it has been fluted.
This seamount, despite having a crater, does not resemble a typical volcano in appearance. According to Aurora Elmore, program manager for NOAA's Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute who spoke to SFGATE, while most seamounts have sloped sides resembling Mount Fuji, this one is unique because it has steep sides that resemble a tower as it rises from the seafloor.
The Saildrone Surveyor, which is the world's largest uncrewed ocean mapping vehicle, discovered a uniquely shaped mountain 200 miles (322 kilometers) away from the coast of northern California. This seamount was detected in an area beyond where seamounts are usually found near the coast, indicating that the discovery extends the range of seamounts.
The most striking feature of this new seamount is its resemblance to a Bundt cake, with steep sides on the exterior and a hollow center. According to Dr. Robert Dziak, Chief Scientist and Project Manager of the Saildrone Surveyor, this is an incredibly rare find.
"What makes this seamount so unique is its shape," said Dziak. "Most seamounts have sloping sides that resemble Mount Fuji but this one has steep sides and a hollow center, making it look like a tower rising from the seafloor."
This rare and unusual shape stands in stark contrast to other known seamounts, which typically have more gentle slopes that resemble Mount Fuji, the iconic Japanese mountain.
Elmore suggested that the tall doughnut shape could be caused by either intense and rapid volcanic activity or a buildup of marine detritus, which is essential "millennia of fish poop," that gradually sharpened the slopes. Although this formation is present in other areas of the ocean floor, it is uncommon to discover one that is large enough to be classified as a seamount.
"It's exciting to study something so unique," says Dr. Dziak. "We hope that further studying this mysterious structure will help us gain a better understanding of the underwater environment."
Most seamounts worldwide, which number in the thousands, are created from underwater volcanoes. This particular seamount seems to have been formed by such a volcano, as it has a crater.
As per Copley's explanation, seamounts are important habitats for marine organisms because they offer solid and rocky surfaces where these creatures can attach themselves. The deep sea is mostly covered in loose, muddy sediment, which makes it difficult to find these. However, seamounts are an exception as they are too steep for mud to stick to, allowing some animals to thrive on their sides. Copley mentioned this. "This volcano Bundt cake is a fantastic example of how deep-sea habitats can support life, in addition to being a very unusual structure." He added that it further demonstrates the importance of seafloor mapping as it allows us to identify such interesting sites.
It will be up to the Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names, which operates under the International Hydrographic Organization and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, to decide whether the mountain shaped like a Bundt cake will be considered a seamount, according to Copley.
He also suggested that the discovery of this unusual structure could lead to further exploration of other unique features on the seafloor, which could potentially provide valuable insight into the ocean's dynamics. The research team will be consulting with the Sub-Committee and is hopeful for a positive outcome.
As Copley put it, "It would be a great honor to have this unique feature recognized by the Sub-Committee, and we are eager to see what other discoveries await us in the depths of the ocean." The Sub-Committee is expected to decide on the matter in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the research team is hopeful that their discovery of this unusual underwater volcano will lead to further exploration and scientific advancements.
Although the Saildrone Surveyor began its journey through the North Pacific in July 2022, it was able to discover the feature in February, as stated. The ship started by charting the previously unknown seafloor contours around the Aleutian Islands in Alaska before continuing southward along the coast of California. It was on its journey south of San Francisco that researchers discovered the Bundt cake-shaped feature.
The discovery of the Bundt cake-shaped volcano is an exciting and inspiring development in ocean exploration. Further research, could provide us with the opportunity to uncover even more unique features that can help us better understand how the ocean works.
Live Science has published an article about the discovery.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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