In marine geology, a guyot (pronounced //), also known as a tablemount, is an isolated underwater volcanic mountain (seamount) with a flat top more than 200 m (660 ft) below the surface of the sea. The diameters of these flat summits can exceed 10 km (6.2 mi). Guyots are most commonly found in the Pacific Ocean, but they have been identified in all the oceans except the Arctic Ocean.
Guyots were first recognized in 1945 by Harry Hammond Hess, who collected data using echo-sounding equipment on a ship he commanded during World War II. His data showed that some undersea mountains had flat tops. Hess called these undersea mountains 'guyots' because they resembled Guyot Hall, the flat roofed biology and geology building at Princeton University, which was itself named after the 19th-century geographer Arnold Henry Guyot. Hess postulated they were once volcanic islands that were beheaded by wave action, yet they are now deep under sea level. This idea was used to help bolster the theory of plate tectonics.
Guyots show evidence of having once been above the surface, with gradual subsidence through stages from fringed reefed mountain, coral atoll, and finally a flat topped submerged mountain. Seamounts are made by extrusion of lavas piped upward in stages from sources within the Earth's mantle to vents on the seafloor. Seamounts provide data on movements of tectonic plates on which they ride, and on the rheology of the underlying lithosphere. The trend of a seamount chain traces the direction of motion of the lithospheric plate over a more or less fixed heat source in the underlying asthenosphere part of the Earth's mantle. There are thought to be up to an estimated 50,000 seamounts in the Pacific basin. The Emperor Seamounts are an excellent example of an entire volcanic chain undergoing this process and contain many guyots among their other examples.
Another factor contributing to the guyots being underwater has to do with the oceanic ridges, such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the Atlantic Ocean. Mid-ocean ridges gradually spread apart over time, due to molten lava being pushed up under the surface of the earth and creating new rock. As the mid-ocean ridges spread apart, the guyots move with them, thus continually sinking deeper into the depths of the ocean. Thus, the greater amount of time that passes, the deeper the guyots become. Although guyots can be hundreds of millions of years old, there have been some recently discovered guyots that were only formed within the last 1 million years, including Bowie Seamount on the coast of British Columbia, Canada.
The steepness gradient of most guyots is about 20 degrees. To technically be considered a guyot or tablemount, they must stand at least 914 m (3,000 ft) tall. One guyot in particular, the Great Meteor Tablemount in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, stands at more than 4,000 m (13,123 ft) high, with a diameter of 110 km (68 mi). However, there are many undersea mounts that can range from just less than 91 m (300 ft) to around 914 m (3,000 ft). Very large oceanic volcanic constructions, hundreds of km across, are called oceanic plateaus. Guyots are much larger in area (mean of 3,313 km2) than typical seamounts (mean area of 790 km2).
There are 283 guyots in the world's oceans, with the North Pacific having 119, South Pacific 77, South Atlantic 43, Indian Ocean 28, North Atlantic 8, Southern Ocean 6, and the Mediterranean 2 guyots; there are none in the Arctic Ocean, though one is found along the Fram Strait in northeastern Greenland. Guyots are also associated with specific lifeforms and varying amounts of organic matter. Local increases in chlorophyll a, enhanced carbon incorporation rates and changes in phytoplankton species composition were associated with the seamount.
- New England Seamounts
- Kodiak–Bowie Seamount chain
- Evolution of Hawaiian volcanoes
- Hotspot (geology)
- Guyot Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
- Bryson, Bill. "A Short History of Nearly Everything". New York: Broadway, 2003. p. 178
- http://etcweb.princeton.edu/CampusWWW/Companion/guyot_arnold.html Guyot, Arnold in A Princeton Companion
- Seamounts are made by extrusion of lavas piped upward in stages from sources within the Earth's mantle to vents on the seafloor. Seamounts provide data on movements of tectonic plates on which they ride, and on the rheology of the underlying lithosphere. The trend of a seamount chain traces the direction of motion of the lithospheric plate over a more or less fixed heat source in the underlying asthenosphere part of the Earth's mantle.
- Hillier, J. K. (2007). "Pacific seamount volcanism in space and time". Geophysical Journal International. 168: 877–889. doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2006.03250.x.
- "Seamount and guyot". Access Science. McGraw Hill Education. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
- Great Meteor Tablemount (volcanic mountain, Atlantic Ocean) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia
- Seamount and guyot: Information and Much More from Answers.com
- Harris, P.T., MacMillan-Lawler, M., Rupp, J., Baker, E. K., 2014. Geomorphology of the oceans. Marine Geology 352, 4-24.
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