Filipina geophysicist discovers ‘world’s largest caldera’ in Benham Rise

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A Filipina marine geophysicist discovered what could be the largest caldera in Philippine Rise or Benham Rise.

The New Zealand-based scientist, Jenny Anne Barretto, together with Ray Wood and John Milson, discovered the caldera. The scientists named the discovery in Benham Rise as “Apolaki Caldera,” after a Filipino mythical sun and war god.

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“For comparison, Earth’s largest calderas, like the Yellowstone, is only about 60 kilometers (km). The size is comparable to shield calderas on Mars (Olympus Mons; 80 km x 65 km) and Venus (Sacajawea; 150 X 105 km),” the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute said Monday in a Facebook post.

The study of the Filipina geophysicist was entitled “Benham Rise unveiled: Morphology and structure of an Eocene large igneous province in the West Philippine Basin.”

A caldera is a large cauldron-like hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber/reservoir in a volcanic eruption.  The ground surface then collapses downward into the emptied or partially emptied magma chamber, leaving a massive depression at the surface (from one to dozens of kilometers in diameter). Although sometimes described as a crater, the feature is a type of sinkhole, as it is formed through subsidence and collapse rather than an explosion or impact. Only seven caldera-forming collapses are known to have occurred since 1900, most recently at Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland in 2014.

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Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed China’s controversial decision to name five undersea features in the Philippine Rise — a maritime region to the northeast of the Philippines formerly known as Benham Rise.

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