Geological community erupts as world’s largest volcano is discovered - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 9 September

A team of scientists has discovered the world’s largest volcano 2km beneath the Pacific Ocean.


Geological community erupts as world’s largest volcano is discovered

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 9 September


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Helen Ward

A team of scientists has discovered the world’s largest volcano 2km beneath the Pacific Ocean.

The Tamu Massif lies about 1,600km (1,000 miles) east of Japan and is part of an oceanic plateau called the Shatsky Rise.

It is known as a shield volcano, which means it has been formed in the shape of a low, broad shield from lava travelling a long distance. It is estimated to cover an area of 310,000 sq km (119,000 square miles), about the same as Great Britain and Ireland.

“We suggest that the Tamu Massif could be the largest single volcano on Earth and that it is comparable in size to the largest volcano in the Solar System, Olympus Mons on Mars,” the scientists write in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The previous holder of the world’s largest volcano title is the Mauna Loa, which makes up more than half the surface of Hawaii. It covers an area of 5,200 sq km and is still active, with its last eruption back in 1984.

The Tamu Massif is thought to have been formed about 145 million years ago, but researchers think it is unlikely to erupt again.

The existence of the volcano came to light after rock samples were taken to analyse its structure, showing it was one immense structure rather than a combination of multiple volcanoes.

William Sager, professor of geophysics at the University of Houston and co-author of the research paper, told journalists that even greater volcanoes may be lurking beneath the seas. “We don’t have the data to see inside them and know their structure, but it would not surprise me to find out that there are more like Tamu out there,” he said.

The Tamu is named after Texas A&M University, where Professor Sager worked previously.


Questions

1.) What is a volcano?
2.) Can you name any famous volcanoes?
3.) Did you know that underwater volcanoes existed? Find out five facts about underwater volcanoes.
4.) What are tectonic plates and what role can they play in the formation of volcanoes?


Related resources


Types of Volcanoes

  • This resource contains detailed information about different types of volcanoes and contains accompanying activities to check understanding.

Cut-out volcano models

  • These papercraft volcano models are sure to add some variety to your lessons.

The World's Top Ten Volcanoes

  • Get children to match these ten volcanoes to their descriptions with the help of a simple vocano vocabulary word mat.

Key information on volcanic eruptions and ash

  • This detailed description of key types of volcanic activity would make an excellent introduction to the topic of volcanoes.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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