The multibeam echo sounder gave the researchers an advantage over other mapping methods. Low-resolution satellite data have revealed images for most of the earth's seafloor, but the technique is not advanced enough to capture most seamounts.
"Satellites just can't see these features and we can," Gardner said.
The researchers have yet to explore the effects of the as-yet-unnamed seamount on the surrounding environment, but these underwater mountains often host diverse marine life, such as commercially important fish species, research finds. However, the newly found seamount is too deep underwater to provide a home for rich fisheries, he said.
Still, because the seamount is so far underwater it won't be a navigational hazard. The United States has jurisdiction over the volcanic seamount and the waters above it, Gardner added.
"It's probably 100 million years old," Gardner said, "and it might have something in it we may be interested in 100 years from now."
The group made its discovery aboard the R/V Kilo Moana, a 186-foot (57 meter) vessel owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the University of Hawaii Marine Center.