New England Seamounts

New England Seamounts
The New England Seamounts
NewEngland Seamount Chain.jpg
Location North Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates 37°24′N 60°00′W  /  37.400°N 60.000°W  / 37.400; -60.000 Coordinates: 37°24′N60°00′W / 37.400°N 60.000°W / 37.400; -60.000

The New England Seamounts is a chain of over twenty underwater extinct volcanic mountains known as seamounts.[1] This chain is located off the coast of Massachusetts in the Atlantic Ocean and extends over 1,000 km from the edge of Georges Bank. Many of the peaks of these mountains rise over 4,000 m from the seabed.[2][3] The New England Seamounts chain is the longest such chain in the North Atlantic and is home to a diverse range of deep sea fauna.[3] Scientists have visited the chain on various occasions to survey the geologic makeup and biota of the region. The chain is part of the Great Meteor hotspot track and was formed by the movement of the North American Plate over the New England hotspot. The oldest volcanoes that were formed by the same hotspot are northwest of Hudson Bay, Canada. Part of the seamount chain is protected by Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.

A variety of different names have been used to refer to this seamount range, including the Kelvin Seamounts, Kelvin Seamount Group, Kelvin Banks, New England Seamount Chain and the Bermuda-New England Seamount Arc.[4]

Formation [ edit ]

The New England hotspot, also referred to as the Great Meteor hotspot, formed the White Mountains 124 to 100 million years ago when the North American continent was directly over the zone. As the continent drifted to the west, the hotspot gradually moved offshore. On a southeasterly course, the hotspot formed Bear Seamount, the oldest seamount in the chain, about 100 to 103 million years ago. Over the course of millions of years, the hotspot continued to create the other seamounts in the chain, culminating about 83 million years ago with the creation of the Nashville Seamount. As the Atlantic Ocean continued to spread, the hotspot eventually "travelled" further east, forming the Great Meteor Seamount south of the Azores, where it is located today.[5] The New England Seamounts were once at or above sea level. As time passed, however, and the chain moved farther away from the New England hotspot, the crust cooled and contracted, and the chain sank into the ocean. All the peaks are now a kilometer or more below the surface.

Biota [ edit ]

Some animals from the New England Seamounts: gorgoniansoft coral, a brisingidsea star, and sponges

The seamount chain provides a unique habitat for deep sea marine creatures. Coral formations grow on the rocky outcrops, resembling underwater forests that provide shelter for invertebrates and fish.[6] Due to the expense and difficulties of studying the deep ocean, little was known of the creatures that inhabited the New England Seamounts. In fact, before recent expeditions, there was only one known coral species in the entire chain.[3] Since 2000, marine biologists, during various exploratory studies, have caught and classified over 203 species of fish and 214 species of invertebrates on the Bear Seamount.[3] This range of diversity suggests that other seamounts may harbour more unknown macro-organisms. During one survey, a species of cutthroat eel, believed to be found only near Australia, was identified.[7] Corals, echinoderms, and crustaceans make up a large portion of the creatures found on the seamount. These organisms act as indicator species, identifying potential problems in the ecosystem.[3]

Seamounts [ edit ]

Map of the New England Seamounts showing the locations of Bear, Kelvin and Manning seamounts
3-D depiction of Bear Seamount, with Physalia Seamount in the background

The New England Seamounts include:

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ "Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution - Seamounts".
  2. ^ "Yale Peabody Museum: Invertebrate Zoology: Deep Sea Fauna from New England Seamounts". Yale Environmental News. Yale University. 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-31.
  3. ^ a b c d e Ivar Babb (2005). "The New England Seamounts". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. U.S. Department of Commerce. Retrieved 2007-07-31.
  4. ^ "Marine Gazetteer Placedetails". Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  5. ^ "Geological Origin of the New England Seamount Chain". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. U.S. Department of Commerce. 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-31.
  6. ^ Susan Mills (2005). "Seamount Coral Communities". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. U.S. Department of Commerce. Retrieved 2007-07-31.
  7. ^ Petit, Charles (2004-08-08). "Denizens of the deep: In obscure marine ecosystems, clues to the origins of life". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-07-31.

External links [ edit ]

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