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

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Volume 23, No. 1
Pages 164 - 165


SPOTLIGHT • Vailulu'u Seamount

By Anthony A.P. Koppers , Hubert Staudigel , Stanley R. Hart, Craig Young , and Jasper G. Konter 
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Vailulu’u seamount is an active underwater volcano that marks the end of the Samoan hotspot trail (Hart et al., 2000). Vailulu’u has a simple conical morphology (Figure 1) with a largely enclosed volcanic crater at relatively shallow water depths, ranging from 590 m (highest point on the crater rim) to 1050 m (crater floor). The crater hosts a 300-m-high central volcanic cone, Nafanua, that was formed between 2001 and 2004. Seismic activity at Vailulu’u included a series of globally recorded magnitude 4.1–4.9 earthquakes in 1973 and 1995, and substantial volcano-tectonic activity recorded over 45 days in 2000, with an average of four earthquakes per day and a maximum of 40 per day (Konter et al., 2004). Hypocenter locations are located directly below the major hydrothermal vent areas (Staudigel et al., 2006).


Koppers, A.A.P., H. Staudigel, S.R. Hart, C. Young, and J.G. Konter. 2010. Spotlight 8: Vailulu’u Seamount. Oceanography 23(1):164–165, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2010.80.


Hart, S.R., H. Staudigel, A.A.P. Koppers, J. Blusztajn, E.T. Baker, R. Workman, M. Jackson, E. Hauri, M. Kurz, K. Sims, and others. 2000. Vailulu’u undersea volcano: The new Samoa. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 1(12), 1056, https://doi.org/10.1029/2000GC000108.

Hart, S.R., H. Staudigel, R. Workman, A.A.P. Koppers, and A.P. Girard. 2003. A fluorescein tracer release experiment in the hydrothermally active crater of Vailulu’u Volcano, Samoa. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth 108(B8), 2377, https://doi.org/10.1029/2002JB001902.

Konter, J.G., H. Staudigel, S.R. Hart, and P.M. Shearer. 2004. Seafloor seismic monitoring of an active submarine volcano: Local seismicity at Vailulu’u Seamount, Samoa. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 5, Q06007, https://doi.org/10.1029/ 2004GC000702.

Staudigel, H., S.R. Hart, A.A.P. Koppers, C. Constable, R. Workman, M. Kurz, and E.T. Baker. 2004. Hydrothermal venting at Vailulu’u Seamount: The smoking end of the Samoan chain. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 5, Q02003, https://doi.org/10.1029/2003GC000626.

Staudigel, H., S.R. Hart, A. Pile, B.E. Bailey, E.T. Baker, S. Brooke, D.P. Connelly, L. Haucke, C.R. German, I. Hudson, and others. 2006. Vailulu’u seamount, Samoa: Life and death on an active submarine volcano. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103(17):6,448–6,453.

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