Underwater mountain named after a famous local scientist

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LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) – Scientists have discovered a new submarine mountain in the Pacific Ocean. They named the summit after UC San Diego’s Scripps Oceanography geophysicist Walter Munk, a San Diego science icon known as the “Einstein of the Ocean.”

If you look around La Jolla you will see a lot of things called “Munk”.

“Has he never stopped asking questions and thinking about what we need to know?” Scripps Institution of Oceanography associate director Bruce Appelgate said.

Munk invented the science of wave forecasting, which helped Allied troops plan amphibious invasions during World War II. Recently, the school announced that a large, newly mapped underwater mountain would bear his name.

“A seamount in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has been named in his honor,” Appelgate said.

Munk died at his home in La Jolla on February 8, 2019. He was 101 years old.

A few months after his death, Appelgate and his colleagues set out on an expedition about 1,000 miles southwest of Honolulu to map an undiscovered mountain range. The 117 million year old peak turned out to be a giant, reaching over 13,500 feet. It was very unique too. It had a flat top, called guyot (pronounced “GEE-oh”).

“It’s a special type of seamount, which suits Walter because it is a special type,” Appelgate said.

There are only 187 named guyots in the world.

“Roger Revelle Guyot, Henry Menard guyot,” said Appelgate.

They are also legendary Scripps researchers and now Walter Munk is one of the greats who have a special place in the ocean.

“We put Walter among his friends in the Mid Pacific Mountains,” smiles Appelgate.

He said it was so fitting to name a seamount after a man who dedicated his life to exploring this frontier.

“We think there are hundreds, maybe thousands more like this out there,” Appelgate said. “And Walter knew it. It shows that there is a lot of work to be done to really understand what our planet looks like and how our planet works.”

He said that 90 million years ago Munk Seamount was above ground. It would therefore have been called “Munk Island”.


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