Effect of Seamounts and Seamount Chains on Ocean Circulation and Thermohaline Structure

  1. Barbara H. Keating,
  2. Patricia Fryer,
  3. Rodey Batiza and
  4. George W. Boehlert
  1. Gunnar I. Roden

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM043p0335

Seamounts, Islands, and Atolls

Seamounts, Islands, and Atolls

How to Cite

Roden, G. I. (1987) Effect of Seamounts and Seamount Chains on Ocean Circulation and Thermohaline Structure, in Seamounts, Islands, and Atolls (eds B. H. Keating, P. Fryer, R. Batiza and G. W. Boehlert), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM043p0335

Author Information

  1. School of Oceanography, University of Washington

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1987

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900681

Online ISBN: 9781118664209



  • Seamounts;
  • Coral reefs and islands


Aspects of effects of seamounts and seamount chains on oceanic flow and thermohaline structure are discussed on the basis of recent theoretical and observational findings. The flow patterns resulting from the flow-topography interaction are complex and occur on scales from local to planetary. They depend on a variety of parameters involving the rotation of the earth and its variation with latitude, stratification, structure of the basic flow, friction, and the height, shape, orientation, and spacing of the seamounts. Internal wave reflection, tidal amplification, eddy trapping, mesoscale geopotential height perturbations, and deflection and modification of the incident flow are some of the more conspicuous features that have been observed. On some seamounts, bottom intensified Taylor columns and trapped thermohaline fronts are suggested. Highly idealized models anticipate vortex pair generation in the initial state, complex eddy-mean flow and eddy-eddy interaction in the intermediate state, and permanent flow deflection, eddy trapping, and wake generation in the final state. While the simplified models anticipate some of the observed features, the dynamics of interaction between realistically shaped seamounts and time varying, spatially nonuniform flow are not fully understood at present.