The biggest volcano ever found on Earth—one of the biggest we know of in the solar system—has been hidden for ages. But now scientists have found it, just chillin’ beneath the sea. It’s a monster.

Tamu Massif sits on the floor of the Pacific off the east coast of Japan and occupies 119,000 square miles at its base, just slightly smaller than the entire state of New Mexico. And even though it doesn’t come close to the breaching the ocean’s surface, its peak is 2.2 miles high. That’s roughly half the size of Mount Everest.

The volcano, which is not believed to be active, consists of a vast single rounded dome in the shape of a shield which was believed to have been formed 144 million years ago when it last erupted.

The epic dimensions of the Tamu Massif almost match the Olympus Mons volcano on Mars, widely regarded the largest volcano ever recorded, according to scientists.

It also eclipses Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano on Earth, which covers only 2,000 square miles, less than two per cent of the size of the Tamu Massif.


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