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Olympus Mons

How does Olympus Mons compare with volcanoes on Earth?

Olympus Mons on Mars is the largest known volcano in the Solar System. It covers an area the size of France and stands 22 km (72,000' or about 13.6 miles) above the surrounding Tharsis bulge. This is more than twice the height of Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii measured from the sea floor or the height of Mt. Everest above sea level. Olympus Mons is a shield volcano, meaning that it's immense height is dwarfed by it's width. Dr. Ray has developed a volcanic magnitude scale based on the volume of lava and ash ejected from a volcano or volcanic province over time. It extends the Volcanic Explosivity Index used to compare individual volcanic eruptions to make other comparisons possible.

On this scale, the largest known explosive eruption on Earth is associated with the La Garita caldera in southeastern Colorado, USA,  which has a magnitude of about 8.7. This is roughly twice the size of the largest Toba, Indonesia and Yellowstone eruptions, which have magnitudes of about 8.4 on this logarithmic scale). Assuming it is a cone, Olympus Mons has a magnitude of 11.3, about 400 times larger than the La Garita eruption. Of course, Olympus Mons was almost certainly built by hundreds of eruptions over a very long time. This makes it twice the size of the entire Hawaiian-Emperor island/seamount chain put together. It is more comparable with a large flood basalt province such as the Siberian Traps in north central Russia, but still about four times smaller than the North Atlantic Igneous Province or the ocean bottom Ontong-Java Plateau.


Olympus Mons

Olympus Mons volcano on Mars

The Olympus Mons volcano on Mars is the biggest known in the Solar System.