Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Mapping Program
Davidson Seamount

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Detail of Davidson Seamount Summit

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Located 120 kilometers to the southwest of Monterey, Davidson Seamount is 42 kilometers long and rises 2,400 meters from the ocean floor, yet is still 1,256 meters below the sea surface. This large geographic feature was the first to be characterized as a seamount and was named after scientist George Davidson of the Coast and Geodetic Survey (forerunner to National Ocean Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Davidson Seamount, like Guide, Pioneer, and Gumdrop Seamounts to the north and Rodriguez Seamount to the south (MBARI Mapping Team, 2001), is an elongated structure with a distinctive northeast-to-southwest orientation common to many other volcanic edifices near the continental margins of southern and Baja California (Atwater and Severinghaus, 1989). The seamount consists of about six subparallel linear volcanic ridges separated by narrow valleys that contain sediment. These ridges are aligned parallel to magnetic anomalies in the underlying ocean crust. Davidson is flanked on both sides by the same magnetic anomaly of Chron 6 (Lonsdale, 1991; Atwater and Severinghaus, 1989), indicating that it formed astride a mid-ocean ridge abandoned about 20 million years ago. The southwest end of Davidson is intersected at a right angle by the Morro Fracture Zone, a fossil transform fault (Lonsdale, 1991).

Davidson Seamount, with an estimated volume of 320 km3, is almost as large as Guide, Pioneer, and Gumdrop Seamounts combined. At the southeast end of the seamount, a large cone, about 5.8 kilometers across at the base and with a volume of nearly 13 km3, is partly surrounded by small satellite cones. The volcano consists mainly of alkalic basalt, hawaiite, and mugearite lavas, with some pyroclastic deposits occurring near the summit (Davis et al., 2002). The seamount is 12.2 ± 0.4 million years old and formed about 8 million years after the underlying mid-ocean ridge was abandoned (Davis et al., 2002). Lower resolution images of Davidson Seamount are included in MBARI Mapping Team (2000).

In addition to its unique shape and geology, Davidson Seamount has remarkable biological communities consisting mainly of abundant large sponges and gorgonians, particularly near the tops of volcanic cones. The waters above its surface are very productive feeding grounds for a wide variety of fishes, marine mammals, and seabirds.

Davidson Seamount perspective view from the southeast

Large image

MBARI provides these data "as is", with no warranty, express or implied, of the data quality or consistency. Data are provided without support and without obligation on the part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to assist in its use, correction, modification, or enhancement.

Davidson Seamount data—30 meter grid cell size
(geographic coordinates)

Grid Sun Illuminated Image Acoustic Reflectivity Image
at 1/2 grid cell size
Index Map Axial Volcano Gorda Ridge Cleft Segment Taney Seamounts
Guide, Gumdrop, Pioneer Seamounts Mendocino Fracture Zone President Jackson Seamount Davidson Seamount Vance Seamounts

Last updated:Oct. 02, 2013