Environment, Science

World’s Largest Volcano Discovered

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Image: Seattle Skier
In the northwestern Pacific Ocean lies Tamu Massif. Image: Seattle Skier

What is the largest volcano on Earth? You may be surprised at the answer.

That’s because the world’s largest volcano has just been discovered–and it’s underwater.

The volcano Mauna Loa, in Hawaii, used to be thought of as the largest volcano in the world.

But scientists have discovered one that’s bigger. Much, much bigger.

Tamu Massif is a massive volcano about the size of the British Isles–or more than three times the size of New Brunswick.

It covers more than 260,000 square kilometres. (Mauna Loa is about 5,100 square kilometres.)

The volcano was discovered by scientists working at the University of Houston. They have been studying it for years, but only recently confirmed that it is one huge volcano, rather than many smaller ones.

Tamu Massif is in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,600 kilometres east of Japan. It is made of basalt, a type of volcanic rock.

The highest point of the volcano is nearly two kilometres below the surface of the ocean.

Scientists say Tamu Massif is probably about 145 million years old.

It is “inactive,” meaning that it no longer erupts or spills lava. Scientists think it became inactive a few million years after it was formed.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Are you surprised that the world’s largest volcano was discovered underwater? How could this discovery change marine geology (the study of underwater rocks)?

Reading Prompt: Comprehension Strategies
Today’s article contains many measurements. How can picturing smaller distances that you are familiar with help you to understand texts that include a variety of measurements?

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Tamu Massif is about 260,000 square kilometres. Google a few states or provinces you know and try to find one that’s comparable.

Primary
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Junior
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Intermediate
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Grammar Feature:
According to Wikipedia: “The name Massif is a designation for various mountainous structures, taken from the French term for massive; “Tamu” is an acronym of Texas A&M University where William Sager, one of the discoverers, previously taught.”

What other acronyms do you know? What do the letters in these acronyms stand for.