Venus’ Volcanoes Have Lava Flows

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 19, 2016 06:25 AM EDT
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The Earth is a geologically active planet. Tectonic plates and volcanoes continually transform its landscape, giving rise to a diverse variety of features. Astronomers speculate if the same activity could be found on other planets in the solar system. There is evidence that the Earth's closest neighbors might be as geologically active as the Earth.

Recently it has been discovered that Mercury is geologically active. This shows that at least another planet has geological activity much like the Earth's. There is evidence as well that aside from Mercury, Venus might also be active geologically.

Venus in a relatively recent past has volcanoes that are active, according to Some of these volcanoes might still be active today. A probe from the European Space Agency (ESA) is looking into Idunn Mons, a volcano on Venus that is 2.5 kilometers in height. The Venus Express has determined Idunn Mons to be a hotspot, since it shows recent signs of activity.

Infrared light showing of the volcano reveals that it is much warmer than the surrounding area, which indicates that it has been active. A more detailed observation of it further shows that it has cooled lava flows on its eastern side.

Venus Express didn't directly see the source of the hotspot though, as Science News reports. Data from the older Magellan spacecraft helped to provide more clues. Computer simulations further rendered how Idunn Mons could create the hotspot.

"Venus is a planet which has always been considered Earth's twin sister," said Piero D'Incecco, one of the researchers from the German Aerospace Center Institute of Planetary Research. He further said that Venus might still hold many secrets as it is covered mostly by clouds. This cloud cover has prevented the Venus Express from getting a detailed look at Idunn Mons.

Through numerical modelling analysis and computer simulations the Idunn Mons hotspot consists of five lava flows. One is found at the top of the volcano and four are on its eastern flanks. D'Incecco said that this is significant since it is the first time that a high resolution map has been made of a volcanic structure outside the Earth.

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