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There are areas of land that are in fact, below sea level. Are there any hills or mountains that have bases that start in these below-sea-level areas of land?

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    $\begingroup$ All seamounts for one thing, then all volcanic islands. then you have places like doggerland. can you be more specific. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ I'm only ocunting mountaints that have land portions which are below sea level. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 7:22
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    $\begingroup$ Ok I get it you are talking about DRY land below sea level, It was confusing because land under underwater is still land. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 13:23

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It's difficult, because to truly have a base below sea level the hill or mountain needs to be surrounded by locations below sea level on all sides. There aren't many spots on Earth's surface away from oceans below sea level at all... and many of those tend to fill with water as well. And the larger the terrain rise of the hill/mountain, generally the larger the footprint of the base, so harder and harder to get it entirely below sea level.

But topographic-map.com is one of my favorite sites for exploring topography, and its color scale works out helpful at finding areas below sea level. And its flexibility lets you root around those areas further... places like California, Egypt, Algeria, Kazakhstan, and the Caspian Sea region.

And doing so, I came across this hill in the region of ancient Israel/the modern borders of Palestine near the An-Nabi Musa area a bit northwest of the Dead Sea:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Looking at the scale and clicking around the "peak", the bases appear to be around -20 meters on all sides, and the peak elevation 74 meters, so it's just a modest 300 foot hill. But it looks to fit your request.

Google Maps also has topography lines for the location as well... which seems to roughly confirm the existence of this hill and the one further northwest, and that their bases are basically below sea level. The Layers and Street View of Google also allow you to look further at the area... there's a picture taken near one of the hills.

Such hills are oddities because of the incredibly small area of the world to be below sea level (and not covered by water). But there's nothing else at all to discourage such numerical novelties. And such areas see so little rain and are entirely disconnected from the ocean that they truly know nothing of what the rest of the world's sea level even means.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 — this seems clearly the sort of thing OP is asking for. A similar example is the misleadingly-named Brooks Island, in Lake Eyre in central Australia. (Lake Eyre is a large endorrheic basin, similar to the Dead Sea; its water levels fluctuate depending on rainfall, and most of the mapped “lake” area is almost always dry. In particular, Brooks “Island” is usually a small hill in a dry below-sea-level saltpan; occasionally, in high-rainfall years, there’s enough water to fill the saltpan around it, making it an actual island.) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ I meant to add as a comment... it's ironic that An-Nabi Musa is apparently a region where Moses is claimed to be buried. For him to either simply be buried below sea level... or on one of the few hills on Earth rising from below sea level to above... is wacky given he is known for what transpired on a taller mountain. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ This works for me. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 16:47
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Mauna Kea is a good example of this. It is generally considered as the tallest mountain on Earth. Even if its elevation is only 4205 meters above sea level, if you add the 6000 meters of its below sea level base, it reaches more than 10 km! From USGS "How big are the Hawaiian volcanoes?":

Mauna Kea Volcano rises 13,796 feet (4,205 meters) above sea level but extends about 19,700 feet (6,000 meters) below sea level to meet the deep ocean floor. Its total height is nearly 33,500 feet (10,211 meters), considerably higher than the height of the tallest mountain on land, Mount Everest (Chomolungma in Tibetan) in the Himalayas, which is 29,029 feet (8,848 meters) above sea level.

Basically, any volcano built on an oceanic island (e.g., Piton de la Fournaise at La Réunion, Karthala at Grande Comore...) had its roots below sea level.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would add that Mt. Everest itself is nowhere near as tall as its peak altitude; it basically sits atop other mountains rather than rising from sea level. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 1:38
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    $\begingroup$ I meaint land mountains as in mountains that have their bases on land. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 7:25
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, it was not clear to me. Then I guess crustal roots would also be ruled out... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 20:18
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Following @JeopardyTempest's advice of rooting around in the Caspian Sea region, a notable feature is Mount Arlan 1,880m

As a free-standing peak in the Caspian basin, it's a proper ultra-prominent mountain indeed. While arguments could go either way on whether the nearby Caspian Sea and Garabogazköl are "properly" the base of the mountain, it's col is sadly slightly above sea level.

Mount Arlan

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In The Netherlands, after the construction of the Noordoostpolder, the former islands of Schokland and Urk became hills with bases below sea level, although Urk is only partially surrounded by land, Schokland is entirely. Whereas the surrounding polder has an elevation of between -2.7 and -4.1 metre, the summit of the hill reaches as high as +0.7 metre according to the official topographic map (don't forget your high altitude gear), but it is apparently sinking and now only 0.0 metre above sea level. The former island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the primary (the only?) tourist attraction in the region (although there reportedly exists a nettle theme park somewhere in the region).

Schokland aerial photo
Schokland seen from above. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

There are also many terpen that are above sea level whereas their base is below sea level, but unlike Schokland and Urk, those are artificial hills, and if they count, the list of eligible hills in The Netherlands (in particular in Holland) becomes quite long.

Schokland topographic map
Schokland topographic map. Source: Wikimedia Commons / Topografische Dienst Kadaster. Heights in metre above the Amsterdam Ordnance Datum.

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    $\begingroup$ On this detailed pdf height map of The Netherlands you can see that there are many areas, esp near the North Sea, where the hills are protecting land that itself lies below sea level. One foot of the hill is at the beach, the other foot is below sea-level. The map is in Dutch but easy to understand. The heights are in meters (3.2ft). $\endgroup$
    – Abel
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Abel Those are mostly dunes, and I'm not sure if the base of the dune is below sea level. Maybe on the inland side it is, but on the side facing the sea it's a definition question. What is the base height of the beach? Given how they're formed, I don't think dunes continue below sea level. And whether above-sea-level-land between below-sea-level polders classifies as a hill when the slope may be less than 0.1%... I'm not sure. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ Absolutely, which is why I specified "one foot is at the beach". But I could've been clearer. I dunno if dunes are considered hills by any definition (Wikipedia seems to think so to some extent). I merely commented to point out the peculiarities of the Dutch landscape, which has some 30% under sea level, so any hill on those areas could be considered eligible. But when a hill is a hill, I don't know ;). $\endgroup$
    – Abel
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 1:13
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I had made a mask of below sea level pixels of the Badwater Basin in this answer. The mask have a few small areas of black pixels (i.e., above sea level pixels) completely surrounded by white pixels (below sea level):

enter image description here

I checked on the site provided by @JeopardyTempest, there are indeed a few hills in the area. The largest one is a flat, ~30 m high hill just South of the Salt Creek interpretative trail:

enter image description here

Looking at it in Google Earth, I believe it is the hill (red ellipse, the red square is just a landmark for reference) pictured on this NPS photograph (public domain):

enter image description here

enter image description here (image Landsat / Copernicus)

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UPDATE: Ok I think I have found the best candidate, I'm amazed there actually is a true mountain completely surrounded by land below sea level, whose topographic prominence is therefore higher than its actual elevation. It's a volcano in Ethiopia, Ale Bagu: (https://www.peakbagger.com/peak.aspx?pid=77241), there is very limited information on wikipedia for such a unique mountain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ale_Bagu) Ale Bagu Elevation 1013m, Topographic prominence 1066m

Prior comment: Just to add to the above, I happened to be carrying out the same investigation on topographic maps, and then decided to look up online and came across this thread. A couple of other relevant locations: There seems to be a bunch around the Jordan valley, with some protruding above sea level, as the OP requested, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masada, as well as some that remain below sea level, but are perhaps a couple of hundred feet prominence above the surroundings, notably Tel Kazir by the sea of Galilee. Also a notable mention of the Salton Buttes at the Salton sea (another below sea level location in California): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salton_Buttes

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice find! A rough estimate of the prominence appears to be (3260 ft) - (-160 ft) = 3420 ft ≈ 1040 meters. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ Pretty close, peak bagger actually lists it as Elevation: 1013 meters, 3323 feet, Clean Prominence: 1066 m/3497 ft Key Col: -53 m/-174 ft $\endgroup$
    – Ian
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 19:35
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The Aghzibir mud volcano (Azeri Wikipedia) appears to rise 375 feet above sea level, with its base about 85 feet below sea level, for a prominence of about 460 feet or about 140 meters. It is located about 18 kilometers south of the city of Älät (Ələt).

enter image description here

There are apparently a significant number of mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan (further information in Azeri), and perhaps five or six of them of them rise in the region of the country that is otherwise below sea level. Aghzibir is the tallest of these, at least according to the data from topographic-map.com.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ When I got up this morning, I didn't expect that I'd be scouring Azerbaijani Wikipedia for information on mud volcanoes later in the day. But here we are. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ Just think what tomorrow could hold! $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 21:24
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Death Valley in California, USA reaches a depth of 282 ft (86 m) below sea level. It contains a number of hills within the valley and mountains within 1 km of the valley.

To meet your qualification, here is Shore Line Butte (188 m) rising from land that is 124 ft below sea level. Note also Cinder Hill, whose "peak" is 29 m below sea level!

Map from topographic-map.com:

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ It seems "connected" on the southwestern side though. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 18:27
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This is in part a philosophical question but one that connects to the composition of continental and oceanic crust. If we consider hills and mountains we need to consider to what we are referencing as the "zero" level. Traditinally this has been sea level so any elevation is considered in terms of "meters above mean sea level" (m a.s.l.). With ongoing climate change sea, levels are rising so the elevations are essentially decrasing we need to reference some reference level if qwe need to express elevations. I think it is still an open question as to what this datum will be. In the geological past sea levels have changed depending on a number of factors such as the rate of renewal of new oceanic plate (being relatively low density due to its inherent heat), the volume of land locked ice sheets (lowering the sea level and volume) and other factors.

The question can only be answered given the conditions under which the areas considered have been formed, i.e. the formation of new warm and therefore light crust and the volume of land-locked ice under a given climate scenario. The current distribution of elevation above and below sea level is not necessarily in synch with our current climate and certainly current climate change. Therefore there is much to consider when interpreting current topography in terms of current climate and certainly current climate change.

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