An Earth and Planetary Science Letters journal clarifies that Mauna Loa is no longer the world's largest volcano. Along the same archipelago, lies the massive Pūhāhonu, which looks harmless at first glance but is twice the size of Mauna Loa.  

New research has revealed that Pūhāhonu is so large that Earth's crust is sinking as a result of movement loading rapidly in the volcano's center.

Will Humanity be Witnessing a Volcanic Eruption Soon? 

Captain Joseph Allen first reported the magnificent sighting of Gardner's Island (Pūhāhonu) in 1820. On the surface, visitors will only see five acres of land, missing its underwater extensions reaching over 600,000 acres.

It is only fitting that Pūhāhonu translates to 'turtle surfacing for air' in Hawaiian.

When the volcano found a home with the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a beautiful array of flora and fauna came with it.

There remains an abundance of Hawaiian limpet, the giant opihi, a local delicacy, and a source of livelihood for opihi pickers. 

Although there are only one known species of plant on the island, succulent sea purslane, Gardner Pinnacles is home to 19 species of seabirds, like the rare blue-gray noddy, and various insects too.

Pūhāhonu : Hot & Large

The edifice is not only the largest volcano, it's heat index is directly proportional to its size. Michael Garcia, the lead researcher of the study, stated that 'Large volume comes from hot magma. It is more likely to erupt if it is hot'

A volcano is only deemed active if it had erupted in 10,000 years. Extinct volcanos are not expected to ever erupt again.

Today, there are still five active volcanoes in Hawaii. The big island is home to Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Hualalai. The last one is Mount Haleakala on Maui.

Looking into Hawaiian volcano eruptions, most activity is seen during 1920 up until the 80s - with Kilauea's 30-year eruption and Mauna Ulu's 5-year activity.

A small, less famous volcano is Lohihi which remains submerged underwater, yet still erupts. Through time, Loihi can continue erupting, build, expand, and connect to Big Island, or even establish its island.

The last recorded volcanic eruption in Hawaii was in 2018 when the Pu'u 'Ō'ō vent on Kilauea spewed lava and hazardous gas. Small earthquakes had been shaking the region that week, and when higher magnitudes were recorded in early May, lava eruptions preceded again.

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Pūhāhonu : Mysterious Origins

Scientists attempted three different test mechanisms in hopes of discovering how and why the volcano grew so massively, which were all rejected.

Since the Hawaiian islands were formed due to volcanic activity, evidence shows that the same magmatic flux pulses formed Pūhāhonu, roughly 13 million years old.

Visually, a map would show Pūhāhonu alone on the west with the five active volcanoes on the opposite side. 

Garcia admits that discoveries about volcanic shields in the 21st century are surprising, comparing that scientists have more information about Mars than mysteries below Earths' oceans. 

What scientists have determined with these recent findings is that Pūhāhonu, the world's biggest and hottest volcano, remains extinct.   

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