Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Marine Geosciences

pp 1-11

Date: Latest Version


  • David M. BuchsAffiliated withSchool of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University Email author 
  • , Kaj HoernleAffiliated withGEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research
  • , Ingo GrevemeyerAffiliated withGEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research


Seamounts are literally mountains rising from the seafloor. More specifically, they are “any geographically isolated topographic feature on the seafloor taller than 100 m, including ones whose summit regions may temporarily emerge above sea level, but not including features that are located on continental shelves or that are part of other major landmasses” (Staudigel et al., 2010). The term “guyot” can be used for seamounts having a truncated cone shape with a flat summit produced by erosion at sea level (Hess, 1946), development of carbonate reefs (e.g., Flood, 1999), or partial collapse due to caldera formation (e.g., Batiza et al., 1984). Seamounts <1,000 m tall are sometimes referred to as “knolls” (e.g., Hirano et al., 2008). “Petit spots” are a newly discovered subset of sea knolls confined to the bulge of subducting oceanic plates of oceanic plates seaward of deep-sea trenches (Hirano et al., 2006).

Charting, Abundance, and Distribution

Seamounts form one of the most com ...

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