Mapping Liliʻuokalani Seamounts in Papahānaumokuākea MNM
This 26-day expedition will involve multibeam and sub-bottom profiler mapping on Liliʻuokalani Seamounts, located in an expansion area of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), encompassing more than 1.5 million square kilometers. As we visit Papahānaumokuākea, the wahi kūpuna of the Hawaiian people and the largest marine conservation area under the US flag, we gratefully acknowledge generations of indigenous Hawaiians and today’s stewards of these waters.
Since scientific exploration has not been conducted in this expansion region, we must first map the seamounts to provide detailed visualization of the targeted features. Information collected during this expedition will help to determine summit depths and pinpoint future dive sites for our team when we will conduct ROV dives at Liliʻuokalani Seamounts in 2022. Satellite and nautical chart data suggest that at least two seamounts in this area reach surprisingly shallow depths given their assumed Cretaceous origin between 66 and 145 million years ago. This expedition contributes to the National Ocean Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization Council (NOMEC) and GEBCO Seabed 2030 seafloor mapping priorities. Both efforts to build complete maps of the seafloor require dedicated surveying efforts, particularly in remote areas to meet these goals within the next decade. 97% of the seafloor >3000 m depth in the PMNM and Pacific Remote Islands is currently unmapped (Westington et al, 2019).