Planetary scientists at the University of Washington have created an interactive map of Venus that includes 85,000 active volcanoes.
Are you surprised by the recent volcanic eruptions on Venus? Paul Byrne and Rebecca Hahn, planetary scientists at the University of Washington, want you to use their new map of the 85,000 volcanoes on Venus to find the next active lava flow. Their study was published online before it appeared in JGR Planets.
“This work provides the most comprehensive map of all volcanic edifices ever compiled on Venus,” says Byrne, associate professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Washington University College of Arts and Sciences in St. Louis. “It provides researchers with a highly valuable database for understanding volcanism on that planet, an important planetary process, but we know very little about Venus, even though it is a world about the same size as Earth.” Is.” Our “.
Byrne and Hahn used radar images from NASA’s Magellan mission to Venus to catalog Venusian volcanoes on a global scale. The resulting database contains 85,000 volcanoes, 99% of which are less than 5 km in diameter.
“Since NASA’s Magellan mission in the 1990s, we have had many important questions about the geology of Venus, including its volcanic features,” Byrne said. “But with the recent discovery of active volcanoes on Venus, understanding where volcanoes are concentrated on the planet, how many there are, how big they are, etc., becomes even more important, especially when we will have new data from Venus next.” few years. ”
“This new database will allow scientists to think about where else to look for evidence of recent geological activity,” said Byrne, who is a faculty member at the university’s McDonnell Center for Space Sciences. “We can do this by looking back at Magellan data from decades ago (as the new Science paper did) or by looking at future data and comparing it to Magellan.”
Byrne and Hahn’s new study includes detailed analyzes of where volcanoes are, where and how they cluster, and how their spatial distributions compare with the planet’s geophysical properties such as crustal thickness. Taken together, this work provides the most comprehensive understanding of the volcanic properties of Venus, and perhaps that of any other volcanic world, to date.
Although we know much about terrestrial volcanoes on Earth, it is likely that many more remain to be discovered beneath the oceans. In the absence of oceans of its own, the entire surface of Venus can be seen with Magellan radar images. Although there are volcanoes on almost the entire surface of Venus, the scientists found relatively few volcanoes in the range of 20–100 km in diameter, which may be a function of magma availability and eruption rates, they speculate.
Byrne and Hahn also wanted to take a closer look at small volcanoes on Venus, those less than 5 km in diameter, that had been overlooked by previous volcano hunters. The new volcano dataset is hosted at the University of Washington and is publicly available for use by other scientists.
“We’ve already heard from collaborators that they’ve downloaded the data and are starting to analyze it, which is exactly what we want,” Byrne says. “Others will have questions that we haven’t thought about about the size, shape and distribution of volcanoes, calendars of activity in different parts of the planet, etc. I’m excited to see what they do. I can’t wait to see Can’t say what they can find out from the new database.’
And if 85,000 volcanoes on Venus sounds like a high number, Hahn says it’s actually conservative. They believe that there are hundreds of thousands of other geological elements with volcanic properties on the surface of Venus. But they are too small to detect. It is exactly this type of data that future missions to Venus will begin in 2030, when NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) will send missions to Venus in the early 2030s to obtain high-resolution radar images of the surface .