Scientists at the University of Hawaii at Manoa have discovered the world’s largest and hottest volcanic shield. A group of volcanologists called Mount Puhahonu, located in the Pahahanaumokuakea Marine National Park, the absolute record-breaker in the world.
The volcano is barely visible, as only its peak appears above the sea bottom. Its name means “turtle floating for breath”.
The Pukhahonu is about 1,100 kilometers north-west of Honolulu. It is a shielded volcano that rises 4,500 m from the sea bottom.
Based on sonar imagery geologists concluded that this mountain contains approximately 150 thousand cubic kilometers of rock. Only one-third of this volume rises above the sea bottom, the rest is buried under a layer of mud, dead corals and material crumbling from the top.
The weight of the volcano is so great that it has caused the earth’s crust to gradually sink over millions of years.
The highest shielded volcano on Earth, from the ocean floor to the top, was considered Mauna Loa, but it was much smaller than Puhahona. The volume of Mauna Loa is about 83,000 cubic kilometers.
The Tamu Massif was also previously a record-breaker with a height of 4,460 m, it covers an area of about 533,000 square kilometers, and its summit is 1,980 m below the surface of the ocean.
It was formed along a median ridge rather than over a single source of magma. Thus, Puhahon was given the title of the largest shielded volcano on Earth.
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