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The largest volcano on Earth spans 120,000 square miles.

Though it nearly matches New Mexico in area, the geologic giant known as Tamu Plateau can be easy to overlook. That’s because it’s inactive—and located underwater, 1,000 miles eastof Japan. Evidence suggests that its most recent spurt of activity took place about 145 million years ago and consisted of massive eruptions, says Dr. William Sager, a professor at the University of Houston who published a 2013 article about the vast volcano in Nature Geoscience journal. Sager says Tamu Plateau formed relatively swiftly: “We’re thinking 1 to 2 million years as opposed to tens of millions—that’s short to a geologist.” Speedy: It’s in the eye of the beholder.

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