Mount Everest is NOT The Tallest Mountain in The World

The world's tallest mountain technically is not Mount Everest.

Mount Everest Vs. Mauna Kea

Mount Everest is often thought of as the tallest mountain in the world, but that title actually belongs to Mauna Kea. When measured from base to peak, Mauna Kea is about 33,500 feet tall, while Mount Everest is only about 29,035 feet tall. However, Mount Everest is taller than Mauna Kea when measured from sea level, because Mauna Kea is located on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The secret of Everest’s height is not found at the summit but deep underground. Because of how it was formed it sits on higher ground.

Fifty million years ago, India’s continental plate crashed into Asia – the biggest collision on Earth in the last 400 million years. The collision was so violent that India’s plate did not just crumple, it pushed under Asia – raising the land mass high into the sky.

Mount Everest is NOT The Tallest Mountain in The World
Mount Everest is NOT The Tallest Mountain in The World. Mauna Kea Volcano, Hawaii.
Photo: NASA

Everest stands 29,035 feet above sea level. Mauna Kea only stands 13,796 feet above seal level, but the mountain extends about 19,700 feet below the Pacific Ocean. Over half of it is submerged.

That puts the total height of Mauna Kea at about 33,500 feet — nearly a mile taller than Everest.

Mauna Kea is actually an inactive volcano on the big island of Hawaii. It is about a million years old, created when the Pacific tectonic plate moved over the Hawaiian hotspot — a plume of liquid magma from deep inside Earth. It last erupted about 4,600 years ago.
Mount Everest is NOT The Tallest Mountain in The World

Mount Everest

  • Altitude above sea level: 8,848 meters (29,031 feet)
  • Base-to-peak height: 33,500 meters (10,994 feet)
  • Location: Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas, between Nepal and China
  • Age: 60 million years old
  • Volcanic activity: Dormant
  • Slope: Steep, with an average grade of 35 degrees
  • Climbing difficulty: Very difficult, with high altitude and technical climbing required
  • Formed by the collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates
  • Considered the tallest mountain above sea level

Mauna Kea

  • Altitude above sea level: 13,796 ft (4,207 m)
  • Altitude from base to summit: 10,203 ft (3,110 m)
  • Location: Big Island of Hawaii, United States
  • Type: Shield volcano
  • Last eruption: 4,600 years ago
  • Formed by a hotspot under the Hawaiian Islands
  • Considered the tallest mountain from base to summit

So, which one is truly "taller" depends on how you measure it. Everest reigns supreme above sea level, but Mauna Kea holds the title for total height from base to peak, most of which is hidden underwater.

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