The summit of an underwater mountain, greater than Mount Kosciuszko, has been mapped for the primary time by RSV Nuyina.
At 2,500 meters excessive, 2,900 meters large and 4,500 meters lengthy, the seamount had been recognized from satellites at about 50 levels South, on the sting of the ‘Livid Fifties’.
Whereas an earlier voyage had skimmed one facet of the seamount, no detailed mapping at its summit had ever been executed.
Seamounts are often shaped from extinct volcanos and might be organic hotspots, attracting plankton, corals, fish and marine mammals.
As Nuyina’s passage to Davis analysis station took the ship instantly over the seamount, the on board acoustics crew took the chance to change on the ship’s hull-mounted multibeam echosounder, to seek out out what lay beneath.
Senior Acoustics Officer, Floyd Howard, stated the echosounder ‘sees’ seafloor options by emitting pings of sound in a fan-like sample beneath the ship.
When the sound hits an object or the seafloor, it bounces again in direction of the ship, permitting scientists to construct an image of the seafloor – much like echolocation utilized by dolphins.
Because the ship cruised at 8 knots over the seamount, its floor construction and peak have been progressively revealed, ping by colourful ping, with completely different colours representing completely different depths.
The thrill was palpable as individuals gathered to see simply how excessive the mountain would rise from a base elevation of about 3,000 meters.
“The very best level we reached was about 500 meters beneath the ocean floor, so it’s a big characteristic,” Howard stated.
The crew has informally named the characteristic ‘Ridgy-Didge Seamount’ till an official identify might be bestowed upon it.
The knowledge collected through the seamount move, and future mapping efforts by Nuyina and different ships, will contribute to international efforts to map the world’s oceans by 2030.