The Geologic Origin and Biology of Unexplored Seamounts in the Expansion Area of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

PI: Kosaki, Randall : Fukunaga, Atsuko (NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries)
Co-PI(s): Konter, Jasper (University of Hawai’i at Mānoa) : Hourigan, Thomas (NOAA Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program)
Start Year: 2020 | Duration: 1.5 years
Partners: NOAA, Ocean Exploration Trust, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Project Abstract:

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) is a large marine protected area encompassing the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and its boundary was extended from 50 nautical miles (nm) to the limits of the 200-nm U.S. exclusive economic zone in 2016. Only a handful of seamounts inside this “expansion area” have been mapped and even fewer were sampled and explored, therefore their geologic origin and biologic communities are very poorly known. A partnership between PMNM, Ocean Exploration Trust, the University of Hawai‘i, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and NOAA’s Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program will explore a number of these seamounts for the first time using Ocean Exploration Trust’s E/V Nautilus and its multibeam mapping system and remotely operated vehicles to conduct telepresence-aided scientific exploration and outreach. The proposed exploration will collect rock samples to determine their age and geologic origin, and conduct biological surveys to investigate their communities and biodiversity. The samples, specimens, data, and video will provide information on PMNM’s expansion area that is critical to the management of the monument.