67. The Greatest Mountain

28 Mar

Pictured: Everest, which is NOT the tallest mountain.

Here is a simple question… what is the tallest mountain or volcano. Name any high peak you know of.

MISCONCEPTION: The tallest mountain is Mount Everest.

TRUTH: That may have been a trick on my part. Take the height of a mountain as the difference height from a mountains base to its tallest point and Mount Everest still ranks highly with its full 8,848 metres of rock, however it has a larger friend. A volcano that is one million years old, Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea is a volcano on Hawaii and is peak is the highest point on the island at 4,205 metres above sea level. This makes it sound smaller than Everest but it is actually much taller than this, because its base isn’t on Hawaii, it’s on the ocean floor. Measured from their we can see it easily beat Everest, with its extremely impressive height coming in at over 10,000 metres.

That is not the end though. You see… Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain… on earth. I asked for ‘the‘ tallest mountain, I didn’t specify a planet. You see, the tallest mountain is on Mars. It is simply known as Olympus Mons, the Latin for Mount Olympus, the mountain where Ancient Greeks believed their Gods resided (Mount Olympus is also the name of a much smaller mountain in Greece).

Olympus Mons is the highest peak in the Solar System. It is an impressive 27km from its base to its peak, making it over three time as high as the smug Everest. It is also a very wide mountain, being over 10km in diameter. Actually it is a volcano, one extremely similar to our old friend Mauna Kea; but, as previously mentioned, not that small.

It’s width is something to behold. It is so wide that if you were to stand on its peak, you wouldn’t be able to see the base of the volcano, because it would extend beyond the horizon, it just wouldn’t feel like a mountain. In fact it is impossible to see the full profile of Olympus Mons simply because of the curvature of Mars itself.

There you go, the largest volcano in the Solar System is Olympus Mons, 27km high, and wide enough that it is curved by the curve of Mars surface on which it rests. As a final little thought… the whole volcano has a moat around it that is over 3 kilometres deep at some points, this is caused by the fact that Olympus Mons is so heavy that the weight causes it to literally dent Mars crust. an impressive volcano by all means.


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One response to “67. The Greatest Mountain

  1. Del Going

    March 28, 2011 at 02:29

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