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Undersea Feature Names

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Naming features on the seafloor - outcomes from SCUFN's 2014 meeting

Madiba Seamount, imagery from Jan Erik Arndt at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI)The GEBCO Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN) works to maintain and update a gazetteer of names of features on the seafloor. The gazetteer is available to view and download via the internet.

The group meets once a year to consider submitted name proposals for newly-discovered seafloor features. They assess whether the suggested names are suitable and appropriate for their generic feature type and if in fact the feature is unnamed.

Through this review process, SCUFN ensures that features are given unique and appropriate names, reducing the possibility of confusion, e.g. a feature being referred to by two separate names in scientific literature.

This year SCUFN met in June at the offices of the International Hydrographic Bureau (IHB) in Monaco and considered name proposals for 102 new features. These included names for features found on the seafloor in the South Atlantic and Weddell Sea regions during cruises with the German ice-breaker “Polarstern” undertaken by scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Bremerhaven, Germany.

As part of the review process, SCUFN accepted the names submitted by AWI scientists for ‘Madiba Seamount’, named in honour of Nelson Mandela and 'Nachtigaller Shoal', named for an explorer from fiction.

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