Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 23 Issue 01

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Volume 23, No. 1
Pages 20 - 21


BOX • Defining the Word "Seamount"

By Hubert Staudigel , Anthony A.P. Koppers , J. William Lavelle , Tony J. Pitcher, and Timothy M. Shank 
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Reading through this issue of Oceanography, it will become apparent that researchers in different disciplines see their seamounts in quite different ways. The term seamount has been defined many times (e.g., Menard, 1964; Wessel, 2001; Schmidt and Schmincke, 2000; Pitcher et al., 2007; International Hydrographic Organization, 2008; Wessel et al., 2010) but there is no “generally accepted” definition. Instead, most definitions serve the particular needs of a discipline or a specific paper. Inconsistencies are common among different publications and, most notably, differ from the recommendations of the International Hydrographic Organization and International Oceanographic Commission (International Hydrographic Organization, 2008). It is not the goal of this note to arbitrate or remedy these inconsistencies. However, as seamount researchers begins to coalesce into one broad, multidisciplinary research community, it is important to: (1) have a simple definition that explains which features are included under the umbrella of seamount research and which are not, providing an essential condition for defining the seamount research community, and (2) respect and be aware of differences among disciplinary definitions, as they may stand in the way of consistently applying one disciplinary data set to another.


Staudigel, H., A.A.P. Koppers, J.W. Lavelle, T.J. Pitcher, and T.M. Shank. 2010. Box 1: Defining the word “seamount”. Oceanography 23(1):20–21, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2010.85.


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Staudigel, H., and D.A. Clague. 2010. The geological history of deep-sea volcanoes: Biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere interactions. Oceanography 23(1):58–71.

Staudigel, H., C.L. Moyer, M.O. Garcia, A. Malahoff, D.A. Clague, and A.A.P. Koppers. 2010. Spotlight 3: Lō`ihi Seamount. Oceanography 23(1):72–73.

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