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Largest volcano on Earth found, scientists say

By Lateef Mungin, CNN
September 7, 2013 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
Tungurahua, in the Ecuadorian Andes, puts on a fiery show in 2011. Tungurahua, in the Ecuadorian Andes, puts on a fiery show in 2011.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The underwater volcano is called Tamu Massif
  • It is about the size of New Mexico state
  • Tamu Massif covers an area of about 120,000 square miles

(CNN) -- Move over, Mauna Loa.

A group of scientists say they've found a volcano bigger than you.

Way bigger.

An underwater volcano dubbed Tamu Massif was found some 1,000 miles east of Japan, says William Sager, a professor at the University of Houston, who led a team of scientists in the discovery.

World's largest volcano discovered

The volcano is about the size of the state of New Mexico and is among the largest in the solar system, Sager says.

World's coolest volcanoes

Tamu Massif covers an area of about 120,000 square miles. In comparison, the largest active volcano on land, Hawaii's Mauna Loa, is about 2,000 square miles, Sager says.

"Its shape is different from any other sub-marine volcano found on Earth, and it's very possible it can give us some clues about how massive volcanoes can form," Sager says.

Tamu Massif is believed to be about 145 million years old, and became inactive within a few million years after it was formed.

The volcano was partly named in honor of Texas A&M University, where Sager worked for 29 years before moving to the University of Houston. Tamu is the university's abbreviation while massif is the French word for "massive" and a scientific term for a large mountain mass, according to Sager.

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