Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the Solar System.


Avani Soares

Parsec Observatory, Canoas, Brazil

C14 Edge + ASI 224 + Powermate 2X + L filter

The largest of the volcanoes in the region of Tharsis Montes, and the greatest of all known volcanoes in the solar system is Olympus Mons. Olympus Mons is a volcanic shield of 624 km (374 miles) in diameter (about the same size as the state of Arizona), 25 km (16 miles) high, and is bordered by a high cliff 6 km (4 miles) . The boiler is 80 km (50 miles) wide and is located on the summit of Mount Olympus. To compare, the largest volcano on Earth is Mauna Loa. Mauna Loa has a volcanic shield of 10 km (6.3 miles) high and 120 km (75 miles) in diameter. The volume of Olympus Mons is about 100 times greater than the Mauna Loa. In fact, the entire chain of Hawaiian islands (Kauai to Hawaii) would fit within Olympus Mons!

Why is Olympus Mons so great?
The main difference between the volcanoes of Mars and the Earth is its size; volcanoes in the Tharsis region are 10 to 100 times higher than those anywhere on Earth. Lava flows on the Martian surface are observed to be much higher, probably a result of eruption higher rates and lower surface gravity.

Another reason why the volcanoes on Mars are so great is because the Martian crust does not move the way it does on Earth. On Earth, the hot spots remain stationary, but the crustal plates are moving above them. The Hawaiian Islands are the result of moving to the northwest of the Pacific plate over a stationary hotspot producing lava. As the plate moves over the access point, new volcanoes are formed and existing ones are being extinguished. This distributes the total volume of wash among many volcanoes, instead of a large volcano. On Mars, the crust remains stationary and the lava builds up in a very large volcano.
Olympus Mons is a shield vulcãode. Instead of being of great violence volcanoes spewing molten material, shield volcanoes are created by lava flowing slowly down and its sides. As a result, the mountain has a low squat appearance, with an average slope of only 5 percent.
Six crater collapse, known as boilers, are stacked on top of each other to create a depression in the summit which is great with 85 Km. When the magma chambers below the boiler emptied lava, probably during an eruption, these cameras entered collapse, have not been able to support the weight of the earth above.

A cliff or scarp, surrounds the outer edge of the volcano, reaching 6 miles height (10 kilometers) above the surrounding area. (Cliff alone is almost as high as Mauna Loa.) A great depression involves the base of the volcano due to its immense weight pressing the crust.
Olympus Mons is a volcano is still relatively young. Although it took billions of years to form, some mountain regions may have only a few million years, thus Olympus Mons can still be an active volcano with potential to erupt at any time.
The highest volcano in the solar system can also house rock glaciers and frozen rocky debris on the ice. Snow and ice deposited above the base of the shroud could result in such glaciers. Water ice isolated by dust from the surface could be near the top of the volcano.
The volcanoes in the Tharsis Montes are so great that rise above the seasonal dust storms on Mars. Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, who studied the Martian surface intensively in the late 19th century, observed these huge resources using an 8-inch telescope (20 cm). When Mariner 9 NASA reached the Red Planet in 1971, the middle of a big sandstorm, was able to photograph the tops of volcanoes above these storms.
Source: NASA Mars Exploration Program
Nola Taylor Redd, Space.com Contributor
Adaptation: Avani Soares