Olympus Mons: The Tallest Volcano in The Solar System

Olympus Mons a Latin term meaning "Mount Olympus", located on the planet Mars, is by far the tallest volcano in the solar system, rising higher than three Mount Everests and spanning the width of the entire Hawaiian island chain. It is the largest of the major Tharsis volcanoes, rising 15.5 miles (25 km) and stretching over nearly 340 miles (550 km) east-west.

Olympus Mons is located in the Tharsis bulge, a huge swelling in the Martian surface that bears numerous other large volcanic features. Among them are a chain of lesser shield volcanoes including Arsia Mons, Pavonis Mons and Ascraeus Mons, which are small only in comparison to Olympus Mons itself. The land immediately surrounding Olympus Mons is a depression in the bulge 2 km deep.


The mountain, as well as a few other of the volcanoes in the Tharsis region, has sufficient height to reach above the frequent sand storms of Mars, and it was visible from Earth already to 19th century observers. The astronomer Patrick Moore points out that during conditions of sand storm, "Schiaparelli had found that his Nodus Gordis and Olympic Snow were almost the only features to be seen. He guessed correctly that they must be high". But only with the Mariner probes could this be confirmed with certainty. After the Mariner 9 probe had photographed it from orbit in 1972, it became clear that the altitude was much greater than that of any mountain found on Earth, and the name was changed to Olympus Mons.
 
Olympus Mons is surrounded by a well-defined scarp that is up to 4 miles (6 km) high. Lava flows drape over the scarp in places.
 
Much of the plains surrounding the volcano are covered by the ridged and grooved 'aureole' of Olympus Mons. The origin of the aureole is controversial, but may be related to gravity sliding off of the flanks of an ancestral volcano.


The summit caldera (central depression), a composite of as many as seven roughly circular collapse depressions, is 41 by 52 miles (66 by 83 km) across. It probably formed from recurrent collapse following drainage of magma resulting from flank eruptions.

Source: http://www.olympusmons.com 

 

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