Great Meteor Seamounts
SUBMARINE ARCHIPELAGO GREAT METEOR
In the middle of mid-Atlantic ridge, 900 km (486 nautical miles) to the south from Azores, the assembly of submarine mounts that compose the Great Meteor is constituted by a series of extinct volcanoes based between the continental slope and the abyssal plain, with depths varying between 2.000 and 4.800 metres. The ancient volcanic cones are today submarine mounts aligned with a orientation mainly north-south. Taken as an assembly the form a underwater ridge of more that 700 km long.
This assembly includes the submarine mounts Atlantis, Plato, Tyro, Cruiser, Irving, Hyères, and the Great Meteor, close to which occur also the submarine mount Little Meteor and the bank Closs, with smaller dimensions.
The submarine mount Great Meteor are distinguished by is flattened top forming a large plateau. Therefore it receives the special designation of guyot. The plateau takes and approximated area of 1465 km2 and is at a depth of 270 metres. In ancient times it has emerged to the surface of the ocean.
The geologists interpret the formation of this orographic complex as result from tectonic movements from the African Plate in movement over an hotspot underlying from the Earth’s crust, in a process associated with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean.
This region has been deeply studied by the international scientific community. In the last decades has been chosen as destiny of a large number of oceanographic missions. Normally it is referred also as the Atlantis-Plato-Cruiser-Great Meteor Seamount Group and Atlantis-Great Meteor Seamount Chain, or Seewarte Seamounts.
The submarine archipelago Great Meteor is very far from the continental coasts and occurs in a region pour in nutrients, associated with the subtropical North Atlantic gyre. The usual scarcity of marine fauna in the superficial layers contrasts clearly with the biologic communities of deep waters, composed by organisms that live in permanent contact with the seabed, or that swim freely in the water column.
Taking into account the regional framework, the submarine archipelago Great Meteor constitutes one pole of remarkable biodiversity, and for that reason shall integrate the national network of Protected Marine Areas. Its protection assumes a major relevance by the fact that supports some endemisms.
Small-eyed rabbitfish Hydrolagus affinis female captured at about 1.700 m depth in the submarine mount Great Meteor (2015.07.13 – photo BIOMETORE)
A shark from the species Heptranchias perlo shooted at about 300 m deepth in the top of Great Meteor. This is one of the most common species in this submarine mount. (2015.07.10 – photo BIOMETORE)
Example of the biodiversity found between the 300 and the 2.000 m depth in the submarine mounts of Great Meteor (2015.07.14 - photo BIOMETORE).