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New evidence suggests active volcanoes on Venus

New evidence suggests active volcanoes on Venus

Active Volcanoes

Scientists have discovered fresh evidence of ongoing volcanic activity on Venus by analyzing radar data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft. The findings, published in a recent study, suggest that Venus may be far more volcanically active than previously thought. Davide Sulcanese from d’Annunzio University in Pescara, Italy, led the research team that identified surface changes indicative of new rock formations from lava flows. “By analyzing the lava flows observed in two locations on the planet, we have discovered that volcanic activity on Venus could be comparable to that on Earth,” Sulcanese said. The Magellan spacecraft, managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, mapped 98% of Venus’s surface from 1990 to 1992.

The new study focused on two locations: the volcano Sif Mons and the western part of Niobe Planitia, an area rich in volcanic features.

Current volcanic activity on Venus

By comparing radar data from 1990 and 1992, researchers observed changes suggesting new rock formations, likely solidified lava from volcanic activity during that period. Study co-author Marco Mastrogiuseppe of Sapienza University of Rome explained, “We interpret these signals as flows along slopes or volcanic plains that can deviate around obstacles such as shield volcanoes like a fluid.”

Using Earth’s lava flows as a reference, the researchers estimated that new rock formations in both Venusian locations ranged between 10 and 66 feet (3 and 20 meters) deep.

The Sif Mons eruption produced approximately 12 square miles (30 square kilometers) of new rock, enough to fill 36,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. The Niobe Planitia eruption produced about 17 square miles (45 square kilometers) of rock, equivalent to 54,000 Olympic pools. Scott Hensley, senior research scientist at JPL and co-author of an initial study on Venusian volcanic activity, commented on the latest findings: “This exciting work provides another example of volcanic change on Venus from new lava flows that augments the vent change Dr. Robert Herrick and I reported last year.”

The discovery of ongoing volcanic activity on Venus provides valuable insight into the planet’s geological history and offers clues to why it evolved differently than Earth. As scientists continue to study our planetary neighbor, these findings contribute to a better understanding of the dynamic processes that shape the solar system.

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