Olympus Mons is considered as the largest volcano in our solar system, present on planet Mars. The massive volcano towers high above the surrounding plains of the red planet. The volcano is considered to be active and may be biding its time until the next eruption.
Olympus Mons is located in the Tharsis Montes region near the Martian equator. It is not the only volcano present there but is much taller than the rest. The tallest of those volcanoes are more than 16 miles taller than the surrounding surface and stretches across 374 miles. When compared to the tallest volcano present on Earth (Hawaii’s Mauna Loa) which is 6.3 miles above the sea level. Olympus Mons volume is about 100 times that of Mauna Loa.
Some of the interesting facts about Olympus Mons are:
Olympus Mons is three times higher than Earth’s heights mountain Mount Everest whose peak is about 5.5 miles above sea level.
Olympus Mons is a shield volcano. Shield volcanoes are different from regular volcanoes as they are created by lava slowly flowing down their sides. Because of this mountain has a low, squat appearance, with an average slope of only 5 percent.
Calderas (six collapsed craters) stacks on top of each other which create a depression at the summit that is 53 miles wide.
The cliff which surrounds the outer edge of the volcano is about 6 miles high above the surrounding area. A wide depression surrounds the base of the volcano as its immense weight presses into the crust.
Despite being the largest volcano of the solar system, it is still young (in terms of volcanoes lifespan). There is the huge potential that Olympus volcano could be still active with a potential to erupt.
Scientists also believe that it can house rock glaciers (rocky debris froze in ice). Water-ice insulated by surface dust may exist near the top of the volcano.
So, why such volcano is present on Mars and not on Earth? Well, Scientist believes that lower surface gravity along with higher eruption rate allowed lava on Mars to pile up. The hot spots of lava under the crust remain in the same location on both planets. However, on Earth, the movement of the crust prevents the steady build-up of lava. But, Mars has limited plate movement. When lava flows to the surface, it continues to pile up in a single spot which results in the formation of large volcanoes like Olympus Mons. The growth of Olympus Mons was aided by its extended lifetime.
Yes, no rovers have yet made the trek to the Martian mountains. But, still, we dream about successfully moving to Mars because its conditions resemble earth.
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