Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain

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The Pacific sea floor, showing the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain stretching northwest from the Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain is the Hawaiian Islands and the Emperor Seamounts: together they form a vast underwater mountain region of islands seamounts, atolls, shallows, banks and reefs. The line goes southeast to northwest beneath the northern Pacific Ocean; and many of the underwater mountains are guyots.[1]

The seamount chain, with over 80 identified undersea volcanoes, stretches over 5,800 kilometres (3,600 mi) from the Aleutian Trench in the far northwest Pacific to the Loʻihi seamount, the youngest volcano in the chain, which lies about 35 kilometres (22 mi) southeast of the Island of Hawaiʻi.

The oldest age for the Emperor Seamounts is 81 million years, and comes from Detroit Seamount. However, Meiji Guyot, located to the north of Detroit Seamount, is likely somewhat older.

In 1963, geologist John Tuzo Wilson explained that the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain was created by a hotspot of volcanic activity that stood as the Pacific tectonic plate moved over it. This left a trail of volcanic islands and seamounts. A "bend" or "V" in the chain marks a shift in the movement of the Pacific plate some 47 million years ago, from a northward to a more northwesterly direction. The bend shows how a tectonic plate can shift direction suddenly. A look at the USGS map on the origin of the Hawaiian Islands clearly shows this "spearpoint".[2]

Recent research shows that the hotspot itself may have moved with time. Some evidence comes from analysis of the orientation of the ancient magnetic field preserved by magnetite in ancient lava flows sampled at four seamounts.[3]

Emperor seamounts table[change | edit source]

Name Type Coordinates[4] Age Notes
Hancock Seamount 30°15′N 178°50′E / 30.25°N 178.833°E / 30.25; 178.833 27.7 to 38.7 million
Colahan Seamount 31°15′N 176°0′E / 31.25°N 176°E / 31.25; 176 K-Ar 38.7±0.2 million[5]
Abbott Seamount 31°48′N 174°18′E / 31.8°N 174.3°E / 31.8; 174.3 K-Ar 41.5±0.3 million
Daikakuji Seamount[6] 32°5.00′N 172°18′E / 32.083°N 172.3°E / 32.083; 172.3 K-Ar 42.4±2.3 and 46.7±0.1 million Also the name of a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Daikaku-ji
Kammu Guyot[7] 32°10′N 173°0′E / 32.167°N 173°E / 32.167; 173 42.4 to 43.4 million Named after Emperor Kammu, former ruler of Japan
Yūryaku Guyot[8] 32°40.20′N 172°16.20′E / 32.67°N 172.27°E / 32.67; 172.27 K-Ar 43.4±1.6 million Named after Emperor Yūryaku, former ruler of Japan
Kimmei Seamount[9] 33°40.84′N 171°38.07′E / 33.68067°N 171.6345°E / 33.68067; 171.6345 K-Ar 39.9±1.2 and 47.9±0.2 million Named after Emperor Kimmei, former ruler of Japan
Kōkō Guyot[10] 35°15.00′N 171°35.00′E / 35.25°N 171.583°E / 35.25; 171.583 K-Ar 48.1±0.8, 50.4±0.1 (south side), and 52.6±0.8 (north side) million Named after Emperor Kōkō, former ruler of Japan
Ōjin Guyot[11] 37°58.20′N 170°22.80′E / 37.97°N 170.38°E / 37.97; 170.38 K-Ar 55.2±0.7 million Named after Emperor Ōjin, former ruler of Japan
Jingū Guyot[12] 38°50′N 171°15′E / 38.833°N 171.25°E / 38.833; 171.25 K-Ar 55.4±0.9 million Named after Empress Jingū, former ruler of Japan
Nintoku Guyot[13] 41°4.80′N 170°34.20′E / 41.08°N 170.57°E / 41.08; 170.57 K-Ar 56.2±0.6 million Named after Emperor Nintoku, former ruler of Japan
Yōmei Seamount[14] 42°18′N 170°24′E / 42.3°N 170.4°E / 42.3; 170.4 56.2 to 59.6 million Named after Emperor Yōmei, former ruler of Japan
Suiko Guyot[15] 44°35′N 170°20′E / 44.583°N 170.333°E / 44.583; 170.333 K-Ar 59.6±0.6 (southern), 64.7±1.1 (central), and 60.9±0.3 million Named after Empress Suiko, former ruler of Japan
Detroit Guyot[16] 51°28.80′N 167°36′E / 51.48°N 167.6°E / 51.48; 167.6 ~ 81 million Well-documented seamount, second-oldest
Meiji Guyot[17] 53°12′N 164°30′E / 53.2°N 164.5°E / 53.2; 164.5 85 million Named after Emperor Meiji, former ruler of Japan; oldest known seamount in the chain

Related pages[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Frankel, Henry R. (2012). "The Continental Drift Controversy: Introduction of Seafloor Spreading," p. 292; Clague D.A. & G.B. Dalrymple. 1987. "The Hawaiian-Emperor volcanic chain, Part I. Geologic evolution," In R.W. Decker, T.L. Wright & P.H. Stauffer, eds. Volcanism in Hawaii, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1350, pp. 5-54; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  2. origin of the Hawaiian Islands Archived 26 July 2007 at WebCite
  3. Tarduno, John A.; et al. (2003). "The Emperor Seamounts: southward motion of the Hawaiian hotspot plume in Earth's mantle". Science 301 (5636): 1064–1069. doi:10.1126/science.1086442. PMID 12881572.
  4. "Seamount Catalog". Seamounts database. EarthRef, a National Science Foundation project. http://earthref.org/databases/SC/. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  5. Sharp, W. D.; Clague, DA (2006). "50-Ma Initiation of Hawaiian-Emperor Bend Records Major Change in Pacific Plate Motion". Science 313 (5791): 1281–84. doi:10.1126/science.1128489. PMID 16946069.
  6. Geographic.org, "Daikakuji Seamount"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  7. Geographic.org, "Kammu Guyot"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  8. Geographic.org, "Yuryaku Guyot"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  9. Geographic.org, "Kimmei Seamount"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  10. Geographic.org, "Kōkō Guyot"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  11. Geographic.org, "Ōjin Guyot"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  12. Geographic.org, "Jingū Guyot"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  13. Geographic.org, "Nintoku Guyot"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  14. Geographic.org, "Yomei Seamount"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  15. Geographic.org, "Suiko Guyot"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  16. Geographic.org, "Detroit Tablemount"; retrieved 2012-6-9.
  17. Geographic.org, "Meiji Guyot"; retrieved 2012-6-9.