OLYMPUS MONS (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     15th June 2024        

Context: Scientists recently discovered frost on Mars' tallest volcano, Olympus Mons, revealing an active water cycle on the Red Planet.

Olympus Mons

  • About: It is a shield volcano situated on Mars’ western hemisphere.
  • Size and Height: It is the highest point on Mars and holds the title of the largest known volcano in the solar system.

oStanding at 16 miles (24 kilometers) tall, it dwarfs Mt. Everest by a factor of three.

  • Coverage: The volcano spans a width of 340 miles (550 kilometers), covering an area larger than the entire Hawaiian Islands chain.
  • Comparison with Earth’s Volcanoes: In contrast to Earth's Mauna Loa, which rises 6.3 miles (10 km) above the ocean floor and is relatively shorter above sea level,

oOlympus Mons boasts a volume about a hundred times greater than Mauna Loa, with enough space to fit the entire Hawaiian island chain inside it.

  • Age and Formation: Olympus Mons is approximately 3.5 billion years old, forming early in Mars’ history.
  • Summit and Caldera: The summit of Olympus Mons is marked by a caldera, an expansive depression spanning 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide, formed by successive volcanic activities.
  • Complex Caldera Formation: Unlike most Earth-based volcanoes with simpler calderas, Olympus Mons' summit caldera consists of several overlapping pits, each created during different eruptive phases, highlighting its complex volcanic history.

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