NewsTwice as tall as Burj Khalifa: Schmidt Institute discovers massive seafloor mountain

Twice as tall as Burj Khalifa: Schmidt Institute discovers massive seafloor mountain

Under the water, there are still many undiscovered objects - illustrative picture.
Under the water, there are still many undiscovered objects - illustrative picture.
Images source: © Unsplash
ed. KMO
5:06 AM EST, November 27, 2023

The Schmidt Ocean Institute's expedition, which mapped the seafloor, has led to the discovery of an enormous underwater mountain off the coast of Guatemala. This underwater behemoth is estimated to be twice as tall as the Burj Khalifa, a skyscraper in Dubai known to be the tallest building in the world.

This massive underwater mountain, with a surface area of approximately 5 square miles and a towering height of 5250 feet, was located during a summer expedition. Experts from the Schmidt Ocean Institute embarked from Puntarenas in Costa Rica on the research vessel Falkor, setting course for the East Pacific Ridge. For six days straight, they diligently gathered data necessary for seafloor mapping, using high-tech tools such as the EM124 echosounder.

Many Mountains Remain Undiscovered Beneath the Ocean Surface

The echosounder device helped measure the depth and distances from objects either resting at the bottom or adrift in the water. Utilizing this device, researchers uncovered the mountain situated about 96 miles from Guatemala's exclusive economic zone, lurking 7874 feet below sea level. According to the published press release, it was concluded that "this underwater mountain is yet to be recorded in any bathymetric database of the sea floor."

"The revelation of an underwater mountain over 4920 feet high which had been veiled till now really brings home just how much there is left to discover," declared Dr. Jyotika Virmani, Executive Director of the Schmidt Ocean Institute. She further remarked, "Being able to map and see these magnificent parts of our planet for the first time is thrilling, especially in an era empowered by technology where the fundamental understanding of our [Pacific] Ocean includes a complete seafloor map."

The Schmidt Ocean Institute elaborates that based on NOAA Ocean Exploration data, it is estimated that there are likely about 100,000 unexplored underwater mountains standing taller than 3280 feet. These figures are, at a minimum, supported by the implications suggested in satellite imagery. Investigations of these regions are crucial due to their rich biodiversity, including an array of deep-sea corals, sponges, and a wide variety of invertebrates. Understanding these areas will be pivotal for future research and discoveries, and provide a more profound comprehension of geological processes. Consequently, mapping the seafloor is nothing short of essential.

The underwater mountain discovered off the coast of Guatemala isn't the only exciting find credited to the Schmidt Ocean Institute and the research vessel Falkor. According to the institute, since March, the experts have made nine substantial discoveries. These include, "unmapped underwater mountains in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, three fresh fields of hydrothermal vents, a newly identified ecosystem beneath hydrothermal vents, and two untouched cold-water coral reefs."

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