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Largest Volcano on Earth found


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#1 Hum

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 12:54

The world's largest volcano lurks beneath the Pacific Ocean, researchers announced today (Sept. 5) in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Called the Tamu Massif, the enormous mound dwarfs the previous record holder, Hawaii's Mauna Loa, and is only 25 percent smaller than Olympus Mons on Mars, the biggest volcano in Earth's solar system, said William Sager, lead study author and a geologist at the University of Houston.

"We think this is a class of volcano that hasn't been recognized before," Sager said. "The slopes are very shallow. If you were standing on this thing, you would have a difficult time telling which way was downhill."

Tamu is 400 miles (650 kilometers) wide but only about 2.5 miles (4 km) tall. It erupted for a few million years during the early Cretaceous period, about 144 million years ago, and has been extinct since then, the researchers report.

 Like other massive volcanoes, Tamu Massif seems to have a central cone that spewed lava down its broad, gentle slopes. The evidence comes from seismic surveys and lava samples painstakingly collected over several years of surveys by research ships. The seismic waves show lava flows dipping away from the summit of the volcano. There appears to be a series of calderas at the summit, similar in shape to the elongated and merged craters atop Mauna Loa, Sager said.

Until now, geologists thought Tamu Massif was simply part of an oceanic plateau called Shatsky Rise in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Oceanic plateaus are massive piles of lava whose origins are still a matter of active scientific debate. Some researchers think plumes of magma from deep in the mantle punch through the crust, flooding the surface with lava. Others suggest pre-existing weaknesses in the crust, such as tectonic-plate boundaries, provide passageways for magma from the mantle, the layer beneath the crust. Shatsky Rise formed atop a triple junction, where three plates pulled apart.

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#2 Crisp

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 12:55

Underwater volcano is Earth's biggest

web-Tamu3D_v2.jpg

The slope of lava layers within Tamu Massif indicate that it formed from a central volcanic vent.

William Sager, University of Houston

 

Geophysicists have discovered what they say is the largest single volcano on Earth, a 650-kilometre-wide beast the size of the British Isles lurking beneath the waters of the northwest Pacific Ocean.

The megavolcano has been inactive for some 140 million years. But its very existence will help geophysicists to set limits on how much magma can be stored in Earth's crust and pour out onto the surface. It also shows that Earth can produce volcanoes on par with Olympus Mons on Mars, which, at 625 kilometres across, was until now the biggest volcano known in the Solar System.

“This says that here on Earth we have analogous volcanoes to the big ones we find on Mars,” says William Sager, a marine geologist at the University of Houston in Texas. “I’m not sure anybody would have guessed that.” Sager and his colleagues describe the structure, named Tamu Massif, in Nature Geoscience on 8 September. ‘Tamu’ is an acronym for Texas A&M University in College Station, where Sager was formerly employed.

 

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#3 Nick H.

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 13:02

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#4 Growled

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 04:43

Is this classified as a super volcano like Yellowstone?



#5 Kriz

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 10:37

Is this classified as a super volcano like Yellowstone?

First thing i thought! Now when it says world's biggest in my eyes that beats Yellowstone!

 

Pretty awesome though :)



#6 OP Hum

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 13:29

I'm building my own island there.



#7 jjkusaf

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 14:13

Is this classified as a super volcano like Yellowstone?

 

Different type of volcanoes.  Google caldera and shield volcanos.