Portuguese seafloor mapping campaign reveals a new seamount in the Azores
The seas around the Azores undoubtedly still have secrets to reveal to the scientific community, but no-one expected one of those secrets to be a shallow-water seamount! A new multibeam bathymetry survey conducted by the Portuguese Instituto Hidrográfico has discovered the small Diogo de Teive seamount, located close to one of the Azores islands, in an area that was previously thought to be much deeper water.
The new high-resolution multibeam data revealed a plateau flanked by gentle slopes, topped by an off-axis seamount with a spectacular small ridge-like peak reaching 585m water depth – topography that is much shallower than the 960m depth indicated by previous bathymetric datasets.
The Diogo de Teive seamount, located just over 30 nautical miles from the island of Flores, was named after the captain that found the islands in western group of the Azores in 1452. A careful look at the local Vessel Monitoring System data gave no indication of fisheries activities in the vicinity of this seamount, which means that Diogo de Teive is probably the only near-natural area within fishable depths in the Azores. This seamount may therefore serve as a unique local native reference ecosystem that can act as a control and analogue site to inform the recovery trajectories of degraded habitats in the Azores. Diogo de Teive is now a priority area for scientific research in the Azores: careful examination of the deep-sea benthic communities inhabiting this seamount will give valuable insights into the levels of naturalness of this location.
This discovery was possible due to an extensive collaboration between the Instituto Hidrográfico, the Regional Government of the Azores and IMAR and Okeanos research centre at the University of the Azores. These three institutions are working together to make more surveys to map the seas around the Azores possible in the near future. No doubt more secrets will be revealed!