Logo link to homepage

What is the world's highest volcano?

Nevados Ojos del Salado volcano on the Chile/Argentina border is the world's highest volcano above sea level, but it rises only about 2,000 m above its base. The broad summit of Mauna Loa shield volcano is 2,700 m lower than Nevados Ojos del Salado, but it's height above base is almost 10 times that of the Andean volcano.

Volcano Country Elevation above sea level
Nevados Ojos del Salado Chile-Argentina 6,879 m (22,563 feet)
Llullaillaco Chile-Argentina 6,739 m (22,104 feet)
Tipas Argentina 6,658 m (21,838 feet)
Nevado de Incahuasi Chile-Argentina 6,638 m (21,773 feet)
Coropuna Peru 6,377 m (20,917 feet)
El Condor Argentina 6,373 m (20,903 feet)
Parinacota Chile-Bolivia 6,336 m (20,782 feet)
Chimborazo Ecuador 6,310 m (20,697 feet)
Pular Chile 6,233 m (20,444 feet)
El Solo Chile-Argentina 6,205 m (20,352 feet)
Sierra Nevada Chile-Argentina 6,173 m (20,247 feet)
San Pedro-San Pablo Chile 6,142 m (20,146 feet)
Aracar Argentina 6,095 m (19,992 feet)
Guallatiri Chile 6,071 m (19,913 feet)
San Jose Chile-Argentina 6,070 m (19,910 feet)
Nevado Chachani Peru 6,057 m (19,867 feet)
Socompa Chile-Argentina 6,031 m (19,782 feet)
Acamarachi Chile 6,023 m (19,755 feet)
Tacora Chile-Peru 5,980 m (19,614 feet)
Sairecabur Chile-Bolivia 5,971 m (19,585 feet)

The summits of the world's twenty highest Holocene volcanoes (above) are all constructed above the structural highs of the Andes mountains. The highest volcano with documented historical eruptions is Llullaillaco, which had three in the 2nd half of the 19th century. Active fumaroles, however, mark the summit crater of Nevados Ojos del Salado, 267 km to the south and 148 m higher than Llullaillaco. The youthful nature of Nevados Ojos del Salado suggests that its lack of historical eruptions stems only from its remote location, and it is rightfully the world's highest volcano. The only higher mountain in the Americas, Argentina's Aconcagua at 6,962 m, was listed as active by Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle, but Chilean colleagues tell us that the mountain is not a volcano and its height results from imbricate thrust faulting.

A very different picture emerges when considering the height of volcanic edifices themselves, as measured from their constructional bases rather than sea level. Massive oceanic shield volcanoes of Hawaii, such as Mauna Loa, rise as much as 9,000 m above the sea floor. These volcanoes are by far the world's largest by volume, dwarfing the continental-margin stratovolcanoes of the Andes. Furthermore, the weight of the countless overlapping lava flows forming these shield volcanoes substantially depresses the oceanic crust beneath them. Geophysical evidence indicates that the full height of Mauna Loa above its base is an astounding 19 kilometers, more than twice the height of Mount Everest above sea level.

Unfortunately, determining the true base of a volcano is often difficult, and we do not have accurate height-above-base data for enough volcanoes to provide a meaningful list.

List of Questions

How many active volcanoes are there?

Has volcanic activity been increasing?

What was erupting in the year...?

What is a volcano?

What is the world's highest volcano?

How do scientists forecast eruptions?

What volcanoes are the most noteworthy?

Why doesn't GVP post alert levels?

What Holocene volcanoes are in areas with a UNESCO classification?

Global Volcanism Program, 2013. Volcanoes of the World, v. 4.7.4. Venzke, E (ed.). Smithsonian Institution. Downloaded 22 Oct 2018. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.VOTW4-2013