May 31, 2024 | David F. Coppedge

More Evidence Venus is Volcanically Active

Without plate tectonics, Venus should be dead,
but lava has apparently been moving

 

Four years ago, we reported on findings that Venus appears to have active volcanoes (20 July 2020). Now, new reports are backing up the claim. If so, it raises questions about how a planet without plate tectonics could have lava puncturing its hardened surface.

Volcanoes on Venus might be erupting right now (Space.com, 28 May 2024). Seeing lava movement on Venus is difficult due to its thick atmosphere. Researchers can look at radar data from the Magellan mission in the 1990s, and compare surface features from one orbit to another.

Planetary scientists scouring decades-old data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft have found signs of lava flows coming from two volcanoes on Venus that erupted in the early 1990s. That was when Magellan orbited the hellish world overhead.

This marks the second time scientists have identified direct geological evidence of recent volcanic activity on Venus, suggesting the planet could be as geologically active as Earth, with volcanoes possibly spewing on its surface as you read this.

Whole globe radar map of Venus (Magellan Mission, NASA)

Active lava flows on Venus raise the stakes for future exploration (New Scientist, 27 May 2024). Did planetary scientists expect our sister planet to still be geologically active? Not necessarily; “Recent lava flows spotted on Venus suggest the planet could be much more geologically active than first thought, possibly as active as Earth,” writes reporter Alex Wilkins. Why wouldn’t a planet nearly the same size as Earth be active? “Venus was once thought to be a ‘dead’ planet, with possible geological activity long having ceased,” he adds. That’s because there is no evidence Venus has plate tectonics.

So what could drive volcanoes if the crust has hardened on top of a cooling interior? Davide Sulcanese at D’Annunzio University in Chieti, Italy, admits ignorance.

We still don’t know today how these processes work,” says Sulcanese. “Do we have some kind of one tectonic plate planet, or some sort of microplates, or something not like the plates we have on Earth? By studying this volcanic activity, we can better understand.”

It’s been 22 years since Magellan radar-mapped Venus, and scientists still don’t understand its geology. The Soviets landed on its surface, and orbiting missions have studied the atmosphere in detail.

Why is it that “understanding” is almost always mentioned in future tense by the moyboys?

 

 

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