Farthest point from the center of the Earth

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6

At first glance, this seems like such a simple question of "What's the highest point on Earth". However, I also know that the Earth isn't perfectly round. So that "highest point" may be in a relative valley.

Also, because it's non-spherical, the "center" may not be easily obvious either. So, I'm curious if there are different answers based on different definitions of "center" (such as geographic center versus center of mass).

So, what is the point on the Earth's surface farthest from the center of the Earth? Is this different based on different definitions of "center"?

Richard

Posted 2014-11-12T12:24:57.657

Reputation: 1 868

I'd define the centre using the Geoid and work from there. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoid

– norman_h – 2016-12-12T01:11:49.367

1

I already answered this question (below), but this awesome map may be the most comprehensive response possible.

– kwinkunks – 2017-04-06T13:08:35.647

3And just to be clear, I'm looking for the point on Earth farthest from the center, not including man-made objects. – Richard – 2014-11-12T12:49:21.477

Answers

52

It's Chimborazo, Ecuador, but only just, beating Huascarán, Peru, by less than 50 metres. Both are over 2 km 'higher' than Everest.

I made a plot of some mountains — height above centre of the earth vs absolute latitude. You can download the IPython Notebook source code here. Warning: v. hacky.

the heights of some mountains, relative to the centre of the earth.

I can't find anything on the position of the centre of the earth. The formula I used for the latitude-dependent radius requires major (equatorial) and minor (polar) radii, but I don't have citations for them either. Argus in his article Defining the translational velocity of the reference frame of Earth gave some numbers for its temporal variance, but I have no idea how this might affect these mountain heights.

Last thing: Apparently, the floor of the Arctic Ocean is the closest point on the surface to the Earth's center (about 6353 km, 30 km 'below' Chimborazo), if you call the bottom of the sea the 'surface'.

kwinkunks

Posted 2014-11-12T12:24:57.657

Reputation: 9 256

3Great answer! THanks for going to the effort of calculating and plotting this. – Semidiurnal Simon – 2014-11-13T16:06:42.480

21

Mount Chimborazo, which is 6,268 meters above sea level and within 1.5 degrees of the equator.

More specifically, according to Dr. Milbert, Chief Geodesist, NOAA, National Geodetic Survey and Dr. Shum, Geodetic Science & Surveying, Ohio State Univ.:

distance from Earth's center of mass, with an uncertainty of only +/- 2 meters:

Mt. Chimborazo - 6384.459 kilometers

Mt. Huascaran - 6384.372 kilometers

Mt. Cotopaxi - 6384.062 kilometers

Mt. Kilimanjaro - 6383.955 kilometers

DavePhD

Posted 2014-11-12T12:24:57.657

Reputation: 4 954

1@aretxabaleta I added that to the answer now. – DavePhD – 2016-01-11T15:04:14.630

This has been confirmed recently, after the 3rd Geodesic French-Ecuadorian Geodesic Missioin, determining 6 384 415.98 meters. Source. Looking after the paper...

– carnendil – 2016-04-08T18:20:01.573

Quick, somebody dump a 1m high pile of dirt on top of Kilimanjaro!! (let me know when you do so I can provide the new right answer :p) – theforestecologist – 2017-02-18T19:17:00.550

What would be the total distance from the center of the Earth then? – arkaia – 2014-11-12T15:00:26.690