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Appears that answering what seamounts are is a non-trivial question. My take is what matters is data, since authoritative opinions on the topic are at best subjective. As such, my position is the definition used by the largest (utilized) database of seamounts would be the best source understanding what seamounts are and are not.

  • What is the largest utilised database of seamounts?
  • What definition is used by the largest utilised databases of seamounts to define seamounts?
  • Does it include formations that are above water?
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what the value of this answer will be to anybody... just because somebody has a large database about something does not make them the sole authority on the definition of that thing, and as noted in earthscience.stackexchange.com/a/840/39 there are a number of different definitions used within academia. $\endgroup$ – Semidiurnal Simon May 7 '14 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ @SimonW: Wow, be a bit more positive; I mean Richard found a seamounts database that appears to cover 94% of all seamounts, unclear how that's not of use, right? $\endgroup$ – blunders May 7 '14 at 22:34
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The largest database of seamounts contains over 33,000 seamounts and was created by Yesson, Chris; Clark, MR; Taylor, M; Rogers, AD. Link

For their list, they defined seamounts and knolls as

Seamounts and knolls are 'undersea mountains', the former rising more than 1000 m from the sea floor
Yesson, C et al. (2011): Lists of seamounts and knolls in different formats. doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.757564

In their paper, they set the definition of a seamount as a sub-surface feature, not breaking the water. This puts the highest elevation in their dataset is 2m below sea level. The pulled their definition from Morato, et al (2008), which states: "seamounts are defined as any topographically distinct seafloor feature that is at least 200 m higher than the surrounding seafloor, but which does not break the sea surface." Then, they subdivided the features into knolls and seamounts at an heigh of 1km (with knolls being between 200m and 1km in height).

So, specifically answering the question, that databases uses the Morato, et al (2008) definition, which excludes super-surface seamounts.

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    $\begingroup$ For completeness: they say in the paper that they used Morato et al. 2008 detection algorithm to find their seamounts but that they separate knolls from seamounts (with the arbitrary tipping point of 1000m height) and Morato et al. 2008 definition of a seamount was: "In the present study, seamounts are defined as any topographically distinct seafloor feature that is at least 200 m higher than the surrounding seafloor, but which does not break the sea surface." $\endgroup$ – plannapus May 8 '14 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ Meaning that effectively their definition is "any topographically distinct seafloor feature that is at least 1000 m higher than the surrounding seafloor, but which does not break the sea surface." $\endgroup$ – plannapus May 8 '14 at 7:46
  • $\begingroup$ And by the way the correct link to their paper is: sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967063711000392 $\endgroup$ – plannapus May 8 '14 at 7:49
  • $\begingroup$ Awesome, @plannapus. Thanks for the comments. I've incorporated them in the answer. $\endgroup$ – Richard May 8 '14 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ @plannapus: I think there is a suggestion somewhere in meta to use the permanent doi links instead of the publishers. Then it will be dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2011.02.004 $\endgroup$ – arkaia May 8 '14 at 15:39

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