Cochise College           Student Papers in Geology

Geology Home Page                   physical geology  historical geology  planetary  gems           

Roger Weller, geology instructor

Mauna Kea
by Steven Kim
Physical Geology
Spring 2010


                                                              The Tallest Mountain in the World

            Most people don’t hesitate in answering the question, “What is the tallest mountain in the world?” Some knowledgeable people, however, tend to have hard time choosing between the two mountains before answering the question. Nonsense? Allow me to explain to you what I mean.

            Mt. Everest is definitely the most famous answer that everyone comes up with. It has an altitude of 8,848 meters – 29,028 feet – above the sea level. It’s hikers’ dream to conquer the top of Mt. Everest.

Apparently, the highest mountain in the world is very arrogant, sharing its glory with only a small number of people. That statement is not entirely true. I’m here to tell you that countless number of people have climbed the top of the world’s tallest mountain and made it back. In fact, over 1.7 million people visited it in the year 2007 alone.


            The name of this mountain is Mauna Kea, located in Hawaii, USA – it’s on top of the Hawaii’s Big Island. The mountaintop is covered with snow during the winter season, and has many observatories that are operated by several countries and universities from around the world.

Its height is known to be 4,205 meters – 13,796 feet – above sea level.

Image result for mauna kea volcano

           So how can this be the tallest mountain in the world? Well, in order for Mauna Kea to be called the tallest mountain in the world, we have to get a little technical with the term “mountain.” According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, mountain is “a landmass that projects conspicuously above its surroundings and is higher than a hill,” or “an elongated ridge.” Since Mauna Kea is an island formed by underwater volcano, its origin is not from a landmass that is above water, but rather submarine. Since the seafloor is about six thousand meters – 19,680 feet – under the sea-level, Mauna Kea mounts up to be over ten thousand feet!

            Now you know that Mt. Everest has a rival that could take over the title of “the tallest mountain in the world.” Millions of people visit Hawaii every year to enjoy many special things that only Hawaii can offer. So if you’re still looking for a nice place to spend your summer, why not consider Hawaii’s Big Island? After all, you would be climbing the tallest mountain in the world!