An underwater volcano in the Pacific Ocean may be the largest on Earth, according to a new studypublished on Thursday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Tamu Massif is the largest of three giant mounds that stick up from the Shatsky Rise, a giant ocean plateau in the northwest Pacific, about 1,000 miles east of Japan. Tamu stands for Texas A&M University, where lead author of the study William Sager first began studying the volcano 20 years ago before joining the University of Houston.
The underwater volcano covers an area of about 120,000 square miles, or an area about the size of New Mexico. That’s 60 times the size of the world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa in Hawaii, and comparable in size to the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons on Mars, according to the study.
The volcano is very wide, spreading out across the ocean floor, but not that tall. The slopes are so gradual that “if you were standing on its flank, you would have trouble telling which way is downhill,” Sager said in a statement.
According to Sager, “Tamu Massif is believed to be about 145 million years old, and it became inactive within a few million years after it was formed.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.