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

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Volume 23, No. 1
Pages 106 - 107


SPOTLIGHT • Great Meteor Seamount

By Christian Mohn  
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Great Meteor Seamount is one of the largest seamounts in the Atlantic Ocean, rising from 4200-m depth at the seafloor to 270-m depth beneath the sea surface (Figure 1). Its elliptical plateau encompasses an area of 1500 km2, roughly matching the size of the Spanish island of Gran Canaria. There is a long tradition of multidisciplinary research at Great Meteor Seamount, dating back to 1967. It has become one of the best-studied seamounts globally, with research aimed at better understanding the connections between oceanic motion around seamount structures and biological distribution patterns. Meincke (1971) was the first to identify a circulation system in the form of an anticyclonic vortex trapped atop Great Meteor Seamount, with the potential to accumulate mesopelagic zooplankton, micronekton, and even fish species with weak swimming capabilities. Later studies revealed a more complex flow spectrum at the seamount (Figure 2), dominated by tidal and internal tidal motions (e.g., van Haren, 2005) and a high level of spatial and temporal variability (e.g., Mouriño et al., 2001). These findings, together with similar studies at other seamounts (see Lavelle and Mohn, 2010, for an overview), indicate that seamounts play a role in ocean biology far beyond the classical view of particle retention inside stationary and closed circulation cells.


Mohn, C. 2010. Spotlight 5: Great Meteor Seamount. Oceanography 23(1):106–107, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2010.77.


George, K.H. 2004. Meteorina magnifica gen. et sp. nov., a new Idyanthidae (Copepoda, Harpacticoida) from the plateau of the Great Meteor Seamount (North Atlantic). Meiofauna Marina 13:95–112.

George, K.H. 2006. New Ancorabolinae Sars, 1909 (Copepoda: Harpacticoida: Ancorabolidae) of the Atlantic Ocean. Description of Pseudechinopsyllus sindemarkae gen. et sp. nov. and Dorsiceratus ursulae sp. nov. from the Great Meteor Seamount, and redescription of D. octocornis Drzycimski, 1967, and D. triarticulatus Coull, 1973 (part.). Meiofauna Marina 15:123–156.

George, K.H., and H.K. Schminke. 2002. Harpacticoida (Crustacea, Copepoda) of the Great Meteor Seamount, with first conclusions as to the origin of the plateau fauna. Marine Biology 144:887–895.

Lavelle, J.W., and C. Mohn. 2010. Motion, commotion, and biophysical connections at deep ocean seamounts. Oceanography 23(1):90–103.

Meincke, J. 1971. Der Einfluß der Großen Meteorbank auf Schichtung und Zirkulation der ozeanischen Deckschicht. Meteor Forschungsergebnisse Reihe A 9:67–94.

Mohn, C., and A. Beckmann. 2002. The upper ocean circulation at Great Meteor Seamount: Part I. Structure of density and flow fields. ICES CM 2002/M:20. Available online at: www.ices.dk/products/CMdocs/2002/M/M2002.PDF (accessed January 8, 2010).

Mouriño, B., E. Fernández, P. Serret, D. Harbour, B. Sinha, and R. Pingree. 2001. Variability and seasonality of physical and biological fields at the Great Meteor Tablemount (subtropical NE Atlantic). Oceanologica Acta 24:167–185.

Uiblein F., A. Geldmacher, F. Koester, W. Nellen, and G. Kraus. 1999. Species composition and depth distribution of fish species collected in the area of the Great Meteor Seamount, eastern Central Atlantic, during cruise M42/3 with seventeen new records. Informes Tecnicos del Instituto de Ciencias Marinas 5:49–85.

Van Haren, H. 2005. Details of stratification in a sloping bottom boundary layer of Great Meteor Seamount. Geophysical Research Letters 32, L07606, https://doi.org/10.1029/2004GL022298.

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