Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Geological Destination - The Tallest Mountains in the World

 One of the definite geological destinations in my "Must Do" list was visiting the "Tallest Mountain in the World". Now, that's not Mount Everest, which is the highest point above sea level. When measuring the tallest mountain in the world, you need to measure it from the base of the mountain. So here are some of the "tallest" stats:

Highest point above sea level: Mount Everest (at 29,029 feet [8,848 meters]).

Point furthest from the center of the Earth: Mount Chimborazo (at 20,564 feet [6,268 meters]). The Earth is not a perfectly round sphere. The equator bulges a bit so the Earth is a bit larger around the middle than if you measured it around the poles. For that reason Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador ends up being 6,800 feet further from the center of the Earth than Mount Everest.

Tallest Mountain on Earth: Mauna Kea (at 13,803 feet [4,207 meters]). Now, since the bases of both Mount Everest and Mount Chimborazo are on crustal rocks, it causes the heights of both of those mountains to be approximately their elevation above sea level. However, since Mauna Kea is based on the ocean floor, it ends up being a much, MUCH, taller mountain, with the entire height of the mountain measuring at more than 33,500 feet [10,210 meters]. 

Mauna Kea as viewed from the Saddle Road.

Biggest Mountain on Earth: Mauna Loa (elevation at 13,448 feet [4,100 meters]). Second to Mauna Kea as the tallest mountain in the world, Mauna Loa is the most massive mountain on Earth. Overall, it takes up 9,700 cubic miles of mountain. This is much more than Mount Everest or any other crustal mountains since those are often mixed together as parts of mountain ranges, where Mauna Loa is essentially one massive mountain, with the other four volcanos merging together to form the Big Island of Hawaii. .

Mauna Loa as viewed from the Saddle Road

Viewing the two tallest mountains on Earth: As you can see by the pictures above, there is a road, Saddle Road, that traverses the center of the Big Island where you go across the saddle between the two tallest mountains in the world and can get a photo of both of them from a pretty good vantage point. You can also drive most of the way up Mauna Kea and hike the rest of the way, however I wasn't able to do that on this trip. Perhaps next time. And, as a side note, you can see here that even in late March, there is snow on Hawaii. 

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