Undersea Volcanoes Seamounts and Guyots

Guyots and seamounts are two types of underwater volcanoes. Seamounts retain their shape while erosion and wave action shaves off the top of the seamount to make a guyot. The guyots remain below the water and not visible to boaters or those on the surface of the water. Guyots harbor many marine animals evidences that they once were above the water. The accepted theory is that these volcanoes move away from the ridges in a process known as seafloor spreading. The tops of the guyots have coral reefs.

Undersea volcanoes produce pillow lava that spreads on the seafloor. Iceland is a place with an active guyot. These volcanoes occur mainly in the Pacific Ocean most are below 3300 feet in sea level. These develop along mid-oceanic ridges and rises. As tectonic plates move, scientists believe that hotspots in the oceans create seamounts. These volcanoes drift along creating the chains.

Seamount chains include the Hawaiian-Emperor, the New England and the Kodiak-Bowie. The Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain reveals the on-going effects of an active underwater chain. This chain contains over eighty known underwater volcanoes. The New England chain lies between Massachusetts and one thousand kilometers into the Atlantic Ocean. It has twenty extinct volcanoes. Deep sea creatures inhabit this chain including 203 species of fish along with 214 species of invertebrates. The creatures in this environment tell the story of the ecosystem. Scientists can identify problems from their health. The Bear and the Nashville Seamounts are the most studied of the seamounts in this area. The Kodiak-Bowie chain reaches from the Gulf of Alaska to British Columbia, Canada. Fourteen volcanoes mostly inactive make up this chain. This is a protected area as of 1998. Scientists believe that a volcano from Washington became part of this chain. The Kodiak is the oldest in this chain.

Many unique and endangered animals find their way to these seamounts. Scientists continue to study them and find new species and additional guyots. For instance, scientists found a native species of cutthroat eel from Australia on the New England chain. Medicine, biology, and fisheries find these areas, extremely beneficial to the economy.

Guyots got their name from the geographer Arnold Henry Guyot. Hess, the man who used that name, connected the building where he studied at Princeton University with the shape of the topless volcanoes. He used these formations to help explain tectonic plates.

Researchers know that undersea volcanoes continue to grow. No one has yet discovered all of them.