Venus: Volcanically Active Planet

  • 30 May 2024

It is more volcanically active than previously believed, according to scientists who have analyzed decades-old radar images and found evidence of eruptions at two additional sites on the surface of Earth's inhospitable planetary neighbor.

Key Points

  • Magellan mapped 98% of the Venusian surface.
  • Radar images obtained by NASA’s Magellan spacecraft from 1990 to 1992 indicated large lava flows at these two locations in the northern hemisphere of Venus during the time of the observations.
  • One of the two sites is Sif Mons, a volcano approximately 200 miles (300 km) wide, located in the Eistla Regio region. Before-and-after radar images show a lava flow covering about 12 square miles (30 square km).
  • The other site is a large volcanic plain in the Niobe Planitia region, where a lava flow produced around 17 square miles (45 square km) of rock.
  • Both sides are shield volcanoes, characterized by broad, gentle slopes formed by low-viscosity lava flows
  • The lava flows observed along the western flank of Sif Mons exhibit linear features with sinuous patterns that follow the direction of the maximum slope.
  • In Niobe Planitia, the lava flows appear to originate near small shield volcanoes and extend towards the northeast, also following the direction of the slope.
  • Venus is the second planet from the sun, having a diameter of about 7,500 miles (12,000 km), slightly smaller than Earth.