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

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Volume 23, No. 1
Pages 72 - 73


SPOTLIGHT • Lō`ihi Seamount

By Hubert Staudigel , Craig L. Moyer , Michael O. Garcia , Alex Malahoff , David A. Clague, and Anthony A.P. Koppers  
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Lō`ihi Seamount defines the volcanically active, leading edge in the Hawaiian hotspot chain. It is located on the submarine flank of Mauna Loa, 30 km south of the island of Hawai`i. Lō`ihi’s summit is at 975-m water depth (Pisces Peak), and the seamount has a pronounced southern rift that extends down to about 5000-m water depth (Figure 1). The summit displays three pit craters (Figure 1), including Pele’s Pit (1350-m water depth), the most hydrothermally active crater, which was formed during an earthquake swarm in 1996 (Garcia et al., 2006). Lō`ihi was not recognized as an active volcano until a sampling expedition in 1978 that led to a detailed understanding of Lō`ihi as a juvenile oceanic intraplate volcano; it then became the de facto type location for the first stage in the development of a typical oceanic intraplate volcano (Figure 2; Moore et al., 1982; Staudigel et al., 1984; Koppers and Watts, 2010). Key characteristics of this “Lō`ihi Stage” of ocean island formation include: (1) a very small volume relative to the final completed volcano, (2) a diverse suite of rock types ranging from very alkalic to tholeiitic, and (3) heterogeneous mantle sources. Since then, Lō`ihi has been the focus of substantial scientific research, with numerous sampling expeditions, leading to a detailed understanding of its volcanic history, seismic activity, petrology, geochemistry, and microbiology (see review by Garcia et al., 2006; Emerson et al., 2007; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loihi_Seamount).


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, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2010.75.


Emerson, D., J.A. Rentz, T.G. Lilburn, R.E. Davis, H. Aldrich, C. Chan, and C.L. Moyer. 2007. A novel lineage of proteobacteria involved in formation of marine Fe-oxidizing microbial mat communities. PLOSOne, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000667.

Garcia, M.O., J. Caplan-Auerbach, E.H. De Carlo, M.D. Kurz, and N. Becker. 2006. Geology, geochemistry and earthquake history of Loihi Seamount, Hawaii’s youngest volcano. Chemie der Erde-Geochemistry 66(2):81–108.

Koppers, A.A.P., and A.B. Watts. 2010. Intraplate seamounts as a window into deep Earth processes. Oceanography 23(1):42–57.

Lupton, J.E. 1996. A far-field hydrothermal plume from Loihi Seamount. Science 272(5264):976–979.

Malahoff, A., I.Ya. Kolotyrkina, B.P. Midson, and G.J. Massoth. 2006. A decade of exploring a submarine intraplate volcano: Hydrothermal manganese and iron at Lō`ihi Volcano, Hawai`i. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 7, Q06002, https://doi.org/10.1029/2005GC001222.

Moore, J.G., D.A. Clague, and W.R. Normark. 1982. Diverse basalt types from Loihi seamount, Hawaii. Geology 10(2):88–92.

Staudigel, H., A. Zindler, S.R. Hart, T. Leslie, C.Y. Chen, and D. Clague. 1984. The isotope systematics of a juvenile intraplate volcano: Pb, Nd, and Sr isotope ratios of basalts from Loihi Seamount, Hawaii. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 69(1):13–29.

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