The island of Guam is approximately 30 miles in length with a variable width, ranging from 12 miles to 4 miles at its narrowest point. The largest island in Micronesia, Guam has a total land mass of 212 square miles, excluding reef formations. Shaped like a footprint, Guam was formed by the union of two volcanoes. The island has two basic geological compositions. Two-thirds of Guam, the central and northern features, are primarily raised limestones with several volcanic formations at Mount Santa Rosa and Mount Mataguak. The northern clifflines drop precipitately into the sea with an elevation ranging from 300 to 600 feet. The southern features are basically volcanic with an elongated mountain ridge dividing the inland valleys and coastline. The highest point is Mount Lamlam with an elevation of 1,334 feet.

The Peak of a submerged mountain, Guam [satellite photo], rises 37,820 feet above the floor of the Marianas Trench, the greatest ocean depth in the world. When visiting Guam, hiking up one of its mountains is like scaling a peak higher than Everest. A metal object would take 64 minutes to fall through the Marianas Trench, just east of Guam, with a depth of 6.79 miles, where pressure is over 18,000 pounds per square inch. The Marianas Trench was pinpointed in 1951 by the British Survey Ship Challenger II, and on January 23, 1960, the manned U.S.N. bathyscaphe Trieste descended to the bottom. On March 24, 1995, the unmanned Japanese probe Kaiko also reached the bottom and recorded a depth of 35,797 feet.

Guam PDN news reported on jun 15, 2009 that the H-ROV remote operated vehicle Nereus descended to a depth of 6.8 miles down into the Marianas Trench [on may 31 2009] to survey the Challenger Deep. At the very bottom of the Pacific, the Nereus found polychaete worms, which are multi-legged predators about one inch long. The Nereus also sent back images of amphipods, crustaceans that are related to shrimp, but which have bodies that are flattened from side to side. Temperatures at the bottom were near the freezing point, at 1.8 degrees Celsius, or 35.24 degrees . The pressure at the bottom was 16,000 pounds per square inch, compared to 14.7 pounds per square inch at the sea level. The seafloor was mostly flat, with sediment in the form of a fine mud. The pressure in the deep sea crushed standard styrofoam cups sent with the Nereus, which came back to the surface an inch and a half in height.

Click volcano map to the left to enlarge (http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov).

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography was involved in filmmaker and explorer James Cameron's recent successful dive nearly 7 miles on 2012March26 aboard the vertical submarine Deep Sea Challenger. The Univ of Guam Marine Lab provided logistical support. Scripps Deputy Directory of Academics Douglas Bartlett referenced two of the deepest parts of the Mariana Trench - the Challenger Deep and the Serena Deep (Stair, Florence. guampdn. Wed Apr 11 2012); pg.3). Guam straddles the edge of the Philippine Plate with the Pacific Plate thrusting below it -- an area called the subduction zone. The Mariana islands are volcanic products of the magma released at this subduction zone. The melting of rock produces magma containing alot of water at the subduction zone. When this magma reaches the surface, the water expands very rapidly, which is why island-arc volcanoes are so explosive. According to National Geographic, it is the water and sulfur that give these volcanoes their bang.

Among the most volcanically active--and the only submarine volcanic arc in waters under United States jurisdiction--is the Mariana Islands. The Mariana Archipelago region features some 50 submarine volcanic edifices in addition to 11 major subaerial volcanoes dotted along more than 1000 km of arc length. Active hydrothermal sites have been sampled on a few volcanoes in the Mariana Arc: Esmeralda Bank lying west of the island of Tinian and two seamounts in the northern part of the arc called Kasuga 2, Kasuga 3, and one volcano, called East Diamante. The latter volcano, lying 20 nautical miles south of the island volcano Anatahan has arc vent fields which may be the best modern analogues of gold-rich ore deposits currently mined on land. The amazing organisms living around deep geothermal vents are well adapted to extreme pressures.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,518991,00.html reports on 2009may05 of a volcano expedition in April aboard an ocean explorer ship, the R/V Thompson, where the expedition team used a remotely operated vehicle called Jason to dive close to the undersea volcano north of Guam, known as NW Rota-1. The volcano near Guam is so active that it has recently built a new cone that reaches 131 feet high and extends to 984 feet wide, said scientists who started making observations there in 2004 and 2006. "Animals specially adapted to their environment are thriving in harsh chemical conditions that would be toxic to normal marine life," Chadwick noted. "Life here is actually nourished by the erupting volcano." The hydrothermal venting from the volcano allows bacterial filaments to coat the rocks and provides a growing food source for many of the nearby creatures, said Verena Tunnicliffe, a biologist from the University of Victoria in Canada. One shrimp has even adapted special pruning claws to harvest food from its volcanic environment, while another becomes a hunter later in life. NW Rota-1 is the only deep sea volcano where scientists have observed eruptions in real-time.

Two seafloor mining companies, Canada-based Nautilus Minerals and Australian-based Neptune minerals have applied for mining exploration licensess/titles in the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas [isles north of guam]. According to their respective websites, they plan to mine the world's seafloor copper-gold sites also called seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) deposits. SMS are high-grade hydrothermal deposits rich in copper, zinc and lead with a high gold and silver content, found on the ocean floor. In January 2006, Neptune minerals applied for exploration licences covering approximately 147,000 km2 along the Marianas Arc and the associated back-arc basin offshore from the Northern Mariana Islands. The Marianas Arc is the southern extension of the Japanese Izu-Bonin Arc.

According to http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2009Apr01/0,4670,SCIDeepOceanMining,00.html scientists have long known about remarkably pure concentrations of metals found near some of the hydrothermal vents, nicknamed "black smokers" because they resemble underwater chimneys. The vents sprout in areas with heavy seismic activity, including the Pacific's volcanic "Ring of Fire," which stretches along the west coast of the Americas, to Asia and down near New Zealand. There, the earth's fractures allow sea water to seep into the earth's crust, where it becomes heated, leaching precious minerals from the surrounding rock. Eventually, the water is hot enough to become buoyant and bursts toward the surface, similar to when cold milk is poured into a cup of coffee, gets heated and rises to the top. The minerals cool in the frigid sea water and solidify into the deposits. About 200 active vents have been found, though only 10 nearby deposits are considered prolific enough to mine, according to a report by the International Seabed Authority. Dormant vents are much tougher to locate, but the deposits around them may also be fruitful. The ISA report indicates a single deposit could weigh 100 million tons.Most of the earth's known hydrothermal vents are outside the 200-mile zones, in open ocean that is under the jurisdiction of the ISA, which was established in 1982 by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The United States still has not signed onto the Law of the Sea treaty, which has been stalled for decades by Senate opponents who say it requires the country to surrender important sovereignty rights. In the Northern Marianas, the Declaration of the Mariana Trench Monument as a U.S. National Park in 2009 prohibiting mining could effectively neutralize some of these mining initiatives in the Marianas. The United States has been consulted as the rules have been drafted, but proponents say the country could be shut out from future claims to deep ocean mines, since the seabed authority would award the rights.

Guam's Western shoreline faces the Philippine Sea while just a few miles away the Eastern beaches faces the Pacific Ocean. Ancient perpendicular faultlines which collect water, now determine paths of existing tributaries. Guam is the "isle of orthogonal rivers", and Westernmost U.S. territory. It is west of the International Dateline and is 1 day ahead of the U.S.: Hence the slogan "Where America's Day Begins".


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