Earth now has one of solar system’s biggest volcanoes

An enormous feature in the northern Pacific, Tamu Massif has been confirmed as the largest single volcano on Earth.

(Credit: Image courtesy William Sager)

Scientists have discovered a staggering colossus that once spewed fire but now slumbers deep in the Pacific Ocean. Sadly it’s not Godzilla, but it is a volcano with a footprint comparable to Olympus Mons on Mars, the largest volcano in the solar system.

Covering an area of 120,000 square miles, which makes it about the size of New Mexico or the British Isles, the formation dubbed Tamu Massif is one of the biggest ever found, according to a study led by University of Houston professor William Sager.

“We show that the Tamu Massif is a single, immense volcano, constructed from massive lava flows that emanated from the volcano center to form a broad, shield-like shape,” Sager and colleagues write in Nature Geoscience (PDF).


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