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19,000 undersea volcanoes have been discovered. “It’s just stunning”

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A team of US oceanographers have discovered 19,000 previously unknown submarine volcanoes using radar satellites. According to experts, these formations have a huge impact on deep-sea ocean flows and sea currents.

The ocean floor, like the land, is characterized by a great variety of terrain. Underwater, you can find high mountains that were formed as a result of tectonic plates overlapping or volcanic eruptions. So far, only a quarter of the seabed has been mapped, meaning no one knows exactly how many seamounts exist or where they might be.

Why is mapping undersea peaks so important? Because they can be a threat to submarines. In addition, not knowing where seamounts are located prevents oceanographers from modeling the flow of seawater around the world.

Underwater mountains

In a new study recently published in the journal Earth and Space Science, a team of experts set out to discover and map as many seamounts as possible. For this purpose, he used data from radar satellites, including CryoSat-2 of the European Space Agency. The authors of the publication were experts from the American Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Hawaii and the Japanese Chungnam National University.

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Satellites do not “see” seamounts, instead they measure the height of the sea surface, which varies with changes in the gravitational pull associated with the topography of the seabed. This effect is called sea mounds. In this way, more than 19,000 previously unknown volcanoes around the world were discovered.

“It’s just mind-blowing,” David Sandwell, one of the study’s authors, told livescience.com.

Some underwater mounds were as low as 1,100 meters, which is the lower limit of what constitutes an underwater mountain. Scientists believe that with this technology, they will be able to estimate the height of other small underwater volcanoes to an accuracy of about 370 meters.

According to experts, seamounts have a very strong influence on deep ocean flows. As the currents reach the seamounts, they are pushed upwards carrying colder water with them and mix in unknown ways. Mapping such currents has become very important as the oceans absorb more heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and freshwater is melting due to ongoing climate change.

Mount Pao Pao in the South Pacific was mapped by sonar. Thousands of other seamounts are only now being discovered by satellitesNOAA Ocean Exploration

phys.org, livescience.com, tvnmeteo.pl

Main photo source: NOAA Ocean Exploration

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