Mauna Loa is no longer considered the world’s largest volcano.
Research published in the current issue of Nature Geoscience confirms that an inactive undersea shield volcano about 1,000 miles east of Japan has a surface area of about 120,000 square miles — roughly the size of New Mexico. Dubbed Tamu Massif, the underwater volcano, previously believed to be a collection of small volcanoes, is about 60 times the size of the previous record holder, Mauna Loa.
University of Houston oceanographer William Sager, who led the research, said the volcano’s land mass isn’t its only unique feature.
“Its shape is different from any other submarine volcano found on Earth, and it’s very possible it can give us some clues about how massive volcanoes can form,” Sager said. “An immense amount of magma came from the center, and this magma had to have come from the Earth’s mantle. So this is important information for geologists trying to understand how the Earth’s interior works.”