Scientists Explore Tamu Massif Origin

Schmidt Ocean Institute’s chief scientist Dr. William Sager and his team are returning to the spot of discovery of Tamu Massif, the world’s largest single volcano, to explore how it was formed.

In 2013, Dr. Sager published a research which showed Tamu Massif to be the largest mountain in the Shatsky Rise oceanic plateau.

Dr. Sager and his team were able to come to this conclusion through the drilling of core samples and seismic imaging of the interior.

The scientists also concluded that the underwater volcano, located approximately 1500 km east of Japan, was formed from massive, fluid lava flows traveling long distances.

The team will now spend the next 36 days aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor collecting magnetic data in order to understand how Tamu Massif was formed.

Dr. William Sager, Photo: SOI/Kerry Ward
Dr. William Sager, Photo: SOI/Kerry Ward

The science party will also use bathymetry data because only about 20% of the volcano has been covered by existing data.

“The rationale for the magnetic data collection is that Shatsky Rise displays magnetic anomalies within the plateau. These stripes indicate laterally-constrained volcanism similar to mid-ocean spreading ridges, but unlike previous postulations for Tamu Massif. From older data it appears that the northeast end of Tamu Massif has stripes, but the southwest part does not,” Schmidt Ocean Institute wrote.

Does this indicate a fundamental change of the style of volcanism from one side to the other? is the main question that the scientist hope to answer through this expedition, the Institute concluded.

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