Olympus Mons vs Mount Everest

Olympus Mons vs Mount Everest: Which is the World’s Tallest Mountain?

Olympus Mons is the tallest mountain on Mars, towering over any other mountaintops in the solar system. It’s also one of the most mysterious mountains in the solar system. Everest is a much smaller mountain, but it’s still an impressive sight. In this article, we’ll compare and contrast Olympus Mons vs Everest. We’ll also give you a brief overview of each mountain

What is Olympus Mons?

Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in the Tharsis Montes region on Mars (Tharsis Montes is the largest volcanic region on Mars). Olympus Mons is a shield volcano (A shield volcano is a volcano that looks like a warrior’s shield lying on the ground). Olympus Mons has a height of over 25 km (16 mi). It is 624 kilometers (374 miles) in diameter, which is roughly the size of the state of Arizona. It is also the largest and tallest known volcano in the Solar System. Scientists say that Olympus Mons is still a relatively young volcano from a geological point of view (a few million years old).

Orbiter view of Olympus Mons
Orbiter view of Olympus Mons
3D view of Olympus Mons Sheild Volcano

Olympus Mons vs Mount Everest

Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in the Tharsis Montes region on Mars (Tharsis Montes is the largest volcanic region on Mars). It is a shield volcano (A shield volcano is a volcano that looks like a warrior’s shield lying on the ground). 

Olympus Mons has a height of over 25 km (16 miles). It is 624 km (374 miles) in diameter, which is roughly the size of the state of Arizona. It is also the largest and tallest known volcano in the Solar System. Scientists say that Olympus Mons is still a relatively young volcano from a geological point of view (a few million years old).

Mauna Kea is the tallest volcano from the base on Earth. But most of it is below sea level

Why is Olympus Mons so big?

Volcanoes in the Tharsis region of Mars are larger than the volcanoes on earth. There are several reasons why the volcanoes on Mars are so large.

The movement of the plates on Mars and the movement of the Earth’s plates are different. The hot spots of lava under the crust remain in the same location on Mars and Earth. The movement of the crust prevents the accumulation of lava. When the crust moves above a hot spot inside of the Earth, new volcanoes are created, and existing volcanoes disappear. Because of this, lava doesn’t store in a single volcano.

For this reason, the total volume of lava produced in one volcano is distributed among many volcanoes instead of forming one large volcano. But on Mars, there is an opposite process. That is, the crust remains motionless. Therefore, lava collects only in one volcano. The movement of the crust affects the size of the volcanoes.

Mount Everest vs Olympus Mons Height Comparison
Mauna Kea is the tallest volcano from the base on Earth. But most of it is below sea level

Another reason for the size, scientists point to, is the long life of Olympus Mons volcano. It is a young volcano on Mars, with evidence of some of the older lava flows a range of more than 115 million years. Scientists speculate that it could be active for another 100 million years. They say it is still a young shield volcano from a geological point of view. It means, Olympus Mons is still an active volcano, so it could erupt at some point in the future. If so, there is a possibility that its size will be even bigger. Then the size of Olympus mons will be bigger than France.

Olympus Mons size comparison with France
Olympus Mons size comparison with France

Early observation

Several volcanoes including Olympus Mons in the Tharsis region were observed and noted by space observers using telescopes in the 19th century. There were dust storms on Mars, but they could see them at a higher level than the dust storms, allowing for unobstructed observation. So, they guessed that they were too high. In 1879, Giovanni Schiaparelli observed what looked like a large light spot-on mars using his telescope (Olympus Mons). He named it Nix Olympus.

Giovanni Schiaparelli
Giovanni Schiaparelli

Nearly observation

During the Mariner 6, and 7 (1969) missions, scientists observed a large diameter like object. But the observations were from an inclined plane and were disturbed by dust storms. But their observations found it to be a high area. Observations by Mariner 9 early in its space mission (1971) showed Olympus mons above a dust storm on the horizon.

It was able to pick out the tops of the volcanoes above the dust storms. As the scientists suspected, they found that this is higher than all the mountains on earth. Observations by Mariner 9 Mission confirmed that Nix Olympia is a volcano. This large shield volcano, which Giovanni Schiaparelli had named Nix Olympus, was later renamed Olympus mons

Mariner 9
Mariner 9 Spacecraft

Other facts about Olympus Mons

According to some research, the most recent eruption occurred only 25 million years ago. Its first eruption happened a long time ago. The deposition of new lava on top of the old lava layers makes it difficult to find its time. Olympus Mons is located in a dusty region on Mars, where dust interferes with rovers doing things like soil sampling is very difficult.

At the summit of Mount Olympus Mons, the atmospheric pressure is significantly higher than on the surface of Mars. The average atmospheric pressure at the top of Olympus Mons is 72 Pa, which is about 12% of the average Martian surface pressure of 600 pascals.

Scientists estimate that the magma chamber associated with the largest caldera at Olympus Mons is about 32 kilometers (105,000 feet) under the caldera floor.