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Newly discovered underwater mountain named after esteemed San Diego scientist

Walter Munk was known as "Einstein of the ocean"
Walter Munk Guyot.png
Posted at 6:09 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 21:30:02-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) -- Scientists have discovered a new underwater mountain in the Pacific Ocean. They named the peak 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'll see a lot of things named 'Munk.'

"He never stopped questioning and thinking what is out there that 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 newly mapped large underwater mountain would be named after him.

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

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

A few months after his death, Appelgate and his colleagues went on an expedition about 1,000 miles southwest of Honolulu to map out an undiscovered mountain range. The 117 million-year-old peak turned out to be a giant, coming in at more than 13,500 feet. It was very unique too. It had a flat top, called a guyot (Pronounced "GEE-oh").

"It's a special kind of seamount, which is fitting for Walter because he's a special kind of guy," Appelgate said.

There are only 187 named guyots in the world.

"Roger Revelle Guyot, Henry Menard guyot," Appelgate listed.

They are also legendary Scripps researchers and now, Walter Munk is among the greats that have a special spot in the ocean.

"We've placed Walter amongst his friends in the Mid Pacific Mountains," Appelgate smiled.

He said it is 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 just like it out there," Appelgate said. "And Walter knew that. It shows that there's a lot of work for us to do to really understand what our planet is like and how our planet works."

He said 90 million years ago, Munk seamount was above ground. So it would have been called "Munk island."