Not the Monaroa volcano: Scientists identify Earth’s new largest shield volcano

Hawaii’s Monaroa volcano has long been the world’s largest shield volcano, but it may need to recognize a new champion in the field,media reported. The nearby Puhahonu volcano is “the largest and hottest shield volcano on Earth,” according to a study published this month in the online edition of Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

There are many types of volcanoes, but shield volcanoes such as Mount Monaroa and Mount Kilauea are the most famous and easily identifiable. “Shield volcanoes are almost all basalt, a type of lava that flows very well during eruptions,” Oregon State University explains.

Puhahonu translates to “the turtle gets up and breathes” in the pacific Ocean near the Papahanaumokuakea National Monument. It doesn’t look big from the surface, but researchers say it’s almost twice as big as Mount Monaroa.

The team, made up of volcanologists and marine scientists, came to new conclusions about the Puhahonu volcano through undersea surveys and rock chemistry analysis. The University of Hawaii says scientists suspected Puhahonu as early as the 1970s that Puhahonu was Hawaii’s largest volcano. They only now have research to support it.

Not the Monaroa volcano: Scientists identify Earth's new largest shield volcano

The visible part of Puhahonu’s surface

Puhahonu’s visible island on the surface of the water is called Gardner Pinnacles, but the team hopes to draw attention to a suitable name for it.