Recent Volcanic Activity on Venus

Image credit: Aoes Medialab/ESA

Lava flows on the surface of Venus are suggested to be only a few years old according to a study of how the mineral olivine is altered by the Venusian environment. This study was led by a team of scientists at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, University of Hawai’i, and Wesleyan University. The rate of alteration of olivine, a common volcanic mineral on the surface of Venus, was previously poorly understood, as were the effects alteration had on the visible to near-infrared (VNIR) spectra measured by the Venus Express spacecraft. Dr. Justin Filiberto and his team altered and oxidized olivine at different temperatures and for different durations in the laboratory to measure how the oxidation of olivine changed its VNIR spectrum with time. They observed that the characteristic absorption feature of olivine weakens within days to months. Therefore, lava flows detected on the surface of Venus that have high near-infrared emissivities indicative of unweathered olivine are likely to have formed within the last several years. This suggests that Venus is volcanically active today. READ MORE