Volcanism on Venus


Volcanism on Venus

The surface of Venus is dominated by volcanism and has produced more volcanoes than any other planet in the solar system. It has a surface that is 90% basalt, and about 80% of the planet consists of a mosaic of volcanic lava plains, indicating that volcanism played a major role in shaping its surface. The planet may have had a major global resurfacing event about 500 million years ago, [cite web | author=D.L. Bindschadler | year = 1995 | url = http://www.agu.org/journals/rg/rg9504S/95RG00281/index.html | title = Magellan: A new view of Venus' geology and geophysics | publisher = American Geophysical Union | language = English | accessdate = 2007-09-13 ] from what scientists can tell from the density of impact craters on the surface. Even though there are over 1,600 major volcanoes on Venus, none is known to be erupting at present and most are probably long extinct. [ [http://volcano.und.edu/vwdocs/planet_volcano/venus/intro.html Volcanoes on Venus] Retrieved on 2007-08-18] However, radar sounding by the Magellan probe revealed evidence for comparatively recent volcanic activity at Venus's highest volcano Maat Mons, in the form of ash flows near the summit and on the northern flank.

Although many lines of evidence suggest that Venus is likely to be volcanically active, present-day eruptions at Maat Mons have not been confirmed.

Venus contains shield volcanoes, widespread lava flows and some unusual volcanoes called pancake domes and "tick-like" structures which are not present on Earth. Pancake dome volcanoes are up to 15 kilometers (9 mi) in diameter and less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mi) in height and are 100 times larger than those formed on Earth. They are usually associated with coronae and "tesserae" (large regions of highly deformed terrain, folded and fractured in two or three dimensions, believed to be unique to Venus). The pancakes are thought to be formed by highly viscous, silica-rich lava erupting under Venus's high atmospheric pressure.

The "tick-like" structures are called scalloped margin domes. They are commonly called "ticks" because they appear as domes with numerous "legs". They are thought to have undergone mass wasting events such as landslides on their margins. Sometimes deposits of debris can be seen scattered around them.On Earth, volcanoes are mainly of two types: shield volcanoes and composite or stratovolcanoes. The shield volcanoes, for example those in Hawaii, eject magma from the depths of the Earth in zones called "hot spots". The lava from these volcanos is relatively fluid and permits the escape of gases. Composite volcanos, such as Mount Saint Helens and Mount Pinatubo, are associated with tectonic plates. In this type of volcano, the oceanic crust of one plate is sliding underneath the other in a subduction zone, together with an inflow of seawater, producing a gummier lava that restricts the exit of the gases, and for that reason, composite volcanoes tend to erupt more violently.

On Venus, where there are no tectonic plates or seawater, volcanoes are of the shield type. Nevertheless, the morphology of the volcanos of Venus is different: on the Earth, shield volcanoes can be a few tens of kilometres wide and up to 10 kilometres high (6.2 mi) in the case of Mauna Kea, measured from the sea floor. On Venus, these volcanos can cover hundreds of kilometres in area, but they are relatively flat, with an average height of 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mi).
[
Alpha Regio.] Other unique features of Venus's surface are "novae" (radial networks of dikes or grabens) and arachnoids. A nova is formed when large quantities of magma are extruded onto the surface to form radiating ridges and trenches which are highly reflective to radar. These dikes form a symmetrical network around the central point where the lava emerged, where there may also be a depression caused by the collapse of the magma chamber.

Arachnoids are so named because they resemble a spider's web, featuring several concentric ovals surrounded by a complex network of radial fractures similar to those of a nova. It is not known whether the 250 or so features identified as arachnoids actually share a common origin, or are the result of different geological processes

ee also

*Volcanism on Io

References


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