Last week scientists discovered the largest volcano on earth and near the largest in the solar system. The volcano, named Tamu Massif, is located 990 miles (1600 km) east of Japan. The base of Tamu Massif occurs a seafloor 4 miles (6.4 km) deep and rises to 1.2 miles (1.98 km) below the surface. This makes Tamu Massif around 2.73 miles tall (4.4 km). The dome extends over 100,000 square miles (260, 000 square km). In comparison the current record holder for largest volcano on earth is Mauna Loa on Hawaii with an area of 1900 square miles (5,000 square kilometers). This size places Tamu Massif about half the size of the largest volcano in our solar systems, Olympus Mons on Mars.
Wait, how did the largest volcano on our planet go undetected? First the summit of Tamu Massif is located well below the ocean’s surface. Second, it was unclear whether the many lava flows of Tamu Massif represented several individual volcanoes with independent flows or lava of single origin.
The volcano is part of a larger underwater feature known as the Shatsky Rise, but only in the past few years has Sager’s team been able to determine that it’s a single volcano. “We knew it was a big mountain, some sort of volcanic mountain, but oceanic plateaus are very large features hidden beneath the ocean and it’s very hard to study them,” Sager says.
“The main thing was the imaging we were able to do a few years ago, but without sort of the ground truth provided by samples that we drilled out of this thing, we wouldn’t have had nearly as compelling a result,” he tells NPR.
Sager says before the discovery that Tamu Massif is a single volcano, scientists had expected that “something this big must be made up of a large number of volcanoes, two, three, four dozen, you just don’t know.”
So where did the name originate? The researchers are Aggies (Texas A&M University or TAMU for short). A massif refers to a group of mountains formed by a part of the crust being displaced as whole.
So what do we do know that the largest volcano is discovered on Earth? Drink in celebration!
3/4 oz raspberry liqueur
3/4 oz Blue Curacao liqueur
To make a TAMU Massif Volcano multiply all ingredients by 1000 and make in a swimming pool.