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Evidence of an active volcano on Venus

This image is a 3D perspective view of the moons star from Venus. – David B. Anderson, SMU/NASA Science Image Library

MADRID, March 16 (European Press) –

Search for pictures of Venus taken by NASA’s Magellan probe It revealed a volcanic vent of about 2.5 square kilometres It changed shape and slept for eight months in 1991.

The research reveals that changes of this magnitude on Earth are related to volcanic activity, either by an eruption at the vent or by the movement of magma under the vent, causing the vent walls to collapse and expand. Published in Science by Robert Herrick of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.

Although Venus is similar to Earth in size and mass, it differs markedly in that it does not have tectonic plates. The boundaries of moving plates on the Earth’s surface are the main places of volcanic activity.

Herrick studied images taken in the early 1990s during the first two imaging sessions of NASA’s Magellan space probe. Until recently, comparing digital images to find new lava flows was time consuming.The article notes. As a result, a few scientists have delved into the Magellanic data to form the features.

“Only in the last decade or so has Magellan data been available at complete resolution, distributed, and easily manipulated by a researcher with a typical personal workstation,” says Herrick. It’s a statement.

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The new research focused on a region that contains two of the largest volcanoes on Venus, Uza and Maat Mons. “Ouza and Ma’at Mons are comparable in size to the largest volcanoes on Earth, but they have lower slopes and are therefore less dispersed,” he explains. Ma’at Mons has an enlarged vent which indicates volcanic activity.

Herrick compared an image of Magellan from mid-February 1991 with an image from mid-October of the same year and noticed a change in the chimney on the north side of a domed volcano that is part of the Maat Mons volcano.

The opening transformed from a circular formation less than a square mile into an irregular shape of nearly four square miles.

A later photograph indicates that the chimney walls were shorter, perhaps only a few hundred meters high, and that the chimney was filled almost to its brim. The researchers speculate that a lava lake formed in the vent during the eight months between the images, Although it is not known if the contents were liquid or if they were cooled and solidified.

The researchers offered one caveat: Collapse of chimney walls not caused by an earthquake could have caused the expansion. However, they point out that collapses of this magnitude in terrestrial volcanoes were almost always accompanied by nearby eruptions. The magma is drawn out from under the chimney because it is going elsewhere.

According to Herrick, the surface of Venus is geologically small, especially compared to all other rocky bodies except Earth and Jupiter’s moon Io.

However, estimates of how often eruptions can occur on Venus have been speculative. They range from several large eruptions per year to one such eruption every several or even decades“, Indicates.

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Herrick compares the lack of information about volcanic activity on Venus to what is known about Jupiter’s moon Io and Mars. “Io is so active that every time we observe it, we shoot several continuous explosions,” he explains.

On a geological time scale, relatively small pyroclastic flows indicate that Mars is still volcanically active. He continues: “However, nothing has happened in the 45 years we have been observing Mars, most scientists would say That you would likely have to observe the surface for a few million years to have a reasonable chance of seeing a new lava flow“.

Herrick’s research adds Venus to a small group of volcanically active objects in our solar system. He said, “Now we can say that Venus is currently volcanically active in the sense that there are at least some volcanic eruptions every year. We can expect that the next missions to Venus will monitor new volcanic flows that have occurred since the Magellan mission. It ended three decades ago.” And we should see some activity as the next two orbital missions collect images“.