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Scientists Believe They’ve Found Active Volcanoes On Venus

by : Cameron Frew on : 21 Jul 2020 13:41
Trump Calls Wearing A Mask 'Patriotic'Trump Calls Wearing A Mask 'Patriotic'NASA

Venus has long been considered a relatively dormant planet. However, there’s been a discovery of great magma-tude: more than three dozen active volcanoes. 

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Researchers have found 37 recently active volcanic structures, strengthening theories that Venus is still geologically alive and kicking following widespread tectonic and magma activity on the surface.

These structures are known as coronae, ring-like in nature and incited by plumes of molten rock rising from deep inside the planet, later hosting lava. While many thought Venus, which lacks Earth’s plate tectonics responsible for reshaping our planet’s surface through history, to be dormant, this new study suggests volcanoes could still be active today.

Venus VolcanoesVenus VolcanoesLaurent Montési/Nature Geoscience

The research was conducted by the University of Maryland and the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Its findings were published in the journal Nature Geoscience on July 20.

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Laurent Montési, co-author of the study and professor of geology at the University of Maryland, said in a statement: 

This is the first time we are able to point to specific structures and say: ‘Look, this is not an ancient volcano but one that is active today – dormant, perhaps, but not dead. This study significantly changes the view of Venus from a mostly inactive planet to one whose interior is still churning and can feed many active volcanoes.

NASA VenusNASA VenusNASA

Researchers used a combination of methods, from analysing radar images of Venus taken by NASA’s Magellan spacecraft – which orbited our closest neighbour from 1990-1994 – to ultra-detailed computer simulations which helped them to determine how the planet’s geological structures form and evolve.

Montési added: ‘The improved degree of realism in these models over previous studies makes it possible to identify several stages in corona evolution and define diagnostic geological features present only at currently active coronae.’

Of the 133 coronae examined as part of the study, 37 emerged as being active over the past 2–3 million years. ‘In my opinion many of these structures are indeed active today,’ Montési said.

NASA Venus VolcanoesNASA Venus VolcanoesNASA

As per The Guardian, Anna Gülcher, lead author and planetary scientist of the Institute of Geophysics in Zurich, said: 

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Our work shows that some of that interior heat is still able to reach the surface even today. Venus is clearly not so geologically dead or dormant as previously thought.

Many of the discovered coronae reside in the planet’s southern hemisphere, including one named Artemis, which is absolutely ginormous, with a diameter of 1,300 miles.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever set foot on the planet to see for ourselves, due to the crushing pressure of the atmosphere, clouds of sulphuric acid and surface temperatures of 465°C.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Science, Astronomy, Now, Research, Space, Venus, Volcanoes

Credits

Nature Geoscience and 1 other
  1. Nature Geoscience

    Corona structures driven by plume–lithosphere interactions and evidence for ongoing plume activity on Venus

  2. The Guardian

    Likely active volcanoes found on Venus, defying theory of dormant planet