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New Giant Volcano Below Sea Is Largest In the World 105

Posted by samzenpus
from the biggest-there-is dept.
An anonymous reader writes "If you're a fan of gigantic volcanoes you'll be happy to know that the biggest volcano on Earth, and one of the biggest in the solar system, has just been discovered under the Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 miles east of Japan. From the article: 'Called Tamu Massif, the giant shield volcano had been thought to be a composite of smaller structures, but now scientists say they must rethink long-held beliefs about marine geology. "This finding goes against what we thought, because we found that it's one huge volcano," said William Sager, a geology professor at the University of Houston in Texas. Sager is lead author in a study about the find that was published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience. "It is in the same league as Olympus Mons on Mars, which had been considered to be the largest volcano in the solar system," Sager told National Geographic.'"
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New Giant Volcano Below Sea Is Largest In the World

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  • Yep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ls671 (1122017)

    Yep, there is bunch of stuff that is hiding under water in the sea that we haven't discovered yet.

    • Re:Yep (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sFurbo (1361249) on Friday September 06, 2013 @04:13AM (#44772713)
      There is, but this is not a case of that: The massif was known, the new part is that it is not multiple volcanoes, but one.
    • by mrsquid0 (1335303)

      Some of it dark and terrible...

    • We need to explore and discover our own planet first. There is in fact much greater opportunity to have viable undersea colonies on Earth than building colonies on Mars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @03:26AM (#44772583)

    Sorry if this may seem ignorant, but how can we be sure it might be the biggest volcano in the solar system if we only just discovered this one on *our* planet?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @04:16AM (#44772721)

      It didn't say it was the biggest volcano in the solar system, but one of the biggest. The biggest known one is Alba Mons on Mars, which is a staggering 5.7 million square kilometres in size. Olympus Mons, also on Mars, is in the range of 300,000 square kilometres, so is the Tamu Massif on Earth, so these two volcanoes compete for the #2 spot. Only other places besides Earth and Mars that have or ever had active volcanoes are Venus and Io. Venus's largest (Maat Mons) is less than half the size of Olympus Mons/Tamu Massif, and Io's largest (Inachus Tholus) is only a tenth that.

      • Mars is smaller than Earth so you would expect larger volcanos, Venus is about the same size but does not have a moon to create tidal forces in the crust. Many of the gas giant moons have cyro-volcanos, this one is purple [google.com.au], but take a look at the surface and it's clear that Jupiter's moon Io could be considered one giant spherical volcano..
    • by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday September 06, 2013 @08:59AM (#44773799)

      You can safely assume a "that we know of" clause on every scientific statement ever made. Scientists don't bother actually stating it because it would get rather repetitive and unreadable, plus it's not the only such assumed qualification and including them all would make science papers and books about 20x longer.

      And of course the claim you state was never made anyway since we already know of bigger volcanoes. Which is an example of these implied qualifications: the Mars volcanoes are not active, to the best of our knowledge they are volcanoes - the geology matches what we expect volcanoes to be and so on. However, a volcano by definition requires a magma chamber and we since they aren't active we can't be 100% sure. There is no other mainstream explanation and they fit volcanoes like a glove so no qualifications would usually actually be stated, the electric universe folk think they are scars from electrical discharges as an example of a completely different interpretation.

      • by Agent0013 (828350)
        I found that electric universe theory to be kind of interesting. The raised edge of Olympus Mons seems to be un-volcanic like. And if the one on Io is actually moving like they said, that is hard to explain as a volcano. So maybe we do have the largest volcano in the solar system.
    • by mrsquid0 (1335303)

      > Sorry if this may seem ignorant, but how can we be sure it might be the biggest volcano in the solar system if we only just discovered this one on *our* planet?

      This is not an ignorant question at all. We are not sure if it is the largest volcano in the Solar System, we just know that it is the largest that we know of on Earth, and one of the largest that we know of in the Solar System. We will not be sure until we have completely explored the entire ocean floor, under the Antarctic and Greenland ice

      • We will not be sure until we have completely explored ... the surfaces of every rocky planet and moon in the Solar System.

        Is there a particular reason that you are excluding the gas giants?

        • by AlecC (512609)

          The gas giants are believed not to have an actual surface, but rather a steadily increasing density from what we could call gas to what we would call solid. It is difficult to see how a volcano, which has a defined surface, could exist. If as surface does, contrary to belief, exist, we cannot see it and therefore can say nothing about its structure - including volcanoes.

          • Sorry. I don't buy it. If there is solid matter, then it must have a surface. At some point there are going to be molecules that are part of the solid's lattice, and some that are not.
            • by Cytotoxic (245301)

              Sorry. I don't buy it. If there is solid matter, then it must have a surface. At some point there are going to be molecules that are part of the solid's lattice, and some that are not.

              Hmmm... is it really meaningful to talk about a "surface" under pressures and temperatures at the center of Jupiter? It seems like current theory is that the core of jupiter is a giant molten soup, but with that amount of mass there could be something exotic and cool like a sea of giant carbon crystals floating on the molten core.... would you call that a surface?

              • there could be something exotic and cool like a sea of giant carbon crystals floating on the molten core.... would you call that a surface?

                Sounds to me like the raw ingredients for a diamond volcano spewing molten carbon.

            • by lessthan (977374)

              It's a flaw in our thinking. We prefer binary values, even though they are uncommon in nature. When does the day become night? Is it the start of sunset, the end of sunset, the end of civil twilight, or the end of nautical twilight? With the gravity on the gas giants bordering on ridiculous, a lot of effects we are familiar with here vanish there.

  • "Called Tamu Massif, the giant shield volcano had been thought to be a composite of smaller structures"

    "This finding goes against what we thought, because we found that it's one huge volcano,"

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      They thought is was a composite of many smaller volcanoes and have discovered it's not.

      Like discovering that the Himalaya is a single mountain that's been cut in several pointy tops by... monks, or something.

    • by sFurbo (1361249)
      Previously, it was thought to be a composite of many smaller volcanoes. Now, it is thought to be one volcano.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @03:32AM (#44772595)

    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

  • What's with the 10 million cookie requests? Never visiting the fucking site again.
  • How? Olympus Mons is 22km high. Volcano in question is barely 4km tall.

    • by dido (9125) <dido.imperium@ph> on Friday September 06, 2013 @04:20AM (#44772731)

      They're compared in terms of surface area. Both Olympus Mons and the Tamu Massif occupy an area approximately 300,000 square kilometres.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        They should probably come up with a better definition of "largest volcano" then. I vote for measuring the amount of magma that spews forth from the volcano in the average month. A dormant volcano, no matter how large, isn't really that exciting to me. By a tiny little volcano that spews forth billlions of litres of magma on a daily basis would be awesome. Olympus Mons appears to be a dead volcano, which makes it no more interesting to me than any other large mountain. It's still pretty cool as far as mou
  • They wrote about this in Sanctuary, so now we need to be afraid, very afraid :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @06:39AM (#44773135)
    I for one welcome our new giant monsters overlords.
  • by jonfr (888673) on Friday September 06, 2013 @07:36AM (#44773383) Homepage

    This volcano is extinct and it is not producing any lava today or magma for that matter. So this is now just an volcano that nature is weathering down slowly.

  • If this really is the largest volcano in the world by surface area, then why didn't it break the surface like the Hawaiian volcanoes have managed? That sounds to me like flood basalt activity (which for some reason isn't treated quite like normal volcanic eruptions, perhaps due to the relative lack of historical precedent). We have bigger examples of flood basalts on Earth already (by surface area and probably by volume), the Deccan Traps of central India and Siberian Traps (which cover a third of Siberia)
  • And cue up a zillion new disaster movies and documentaries about how this "new" super volcano could destroy the planet. I mean that is the only few things these channels offer these days, disaster movies and docs about the potential for disasters, and shows about logging.

    Someone needs to keep Dean Cain employed!

    Synopsis: Dean Cain, a retired US geologist is standing on his paddleboard off the coast of Hawaii when a freak wave washes over him and crashes ashore. Scratching his head and thinking that somet

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