Scientists Discover New Clues About Maat Mons’ Complex Eruption History

Scientists have uncovered new information about the complex eruption history of Maat Mons, one of Venus’ highest volcanoes, which could lead to a better understanding of the planet’s volcanic activity.

Maat Mons is a massive shield volcano located in the northern hemisphere of Venus, measuring about 8 kilometers high and with a diameter of 400 kilometers. It is believed to have last erupted between 4 and 1 million years ago, and it is an object of scientific study due to its size, height, and uncertain eruption history.

The research led by Anna Gülcher and Melanie Reitner, both from the University of Frankfurt in Germany, sheds light on the complicated nature of Maat Mons’ volcanic history. The researchers studied high-resolution radar images provided by the Magellan spacecraft, which orbited Venus between 1990 and 1994.

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Their analysis has revealed a sequence of lava flows of various ages at the base of the volcano, indicating that Maat Mons has undergone multiple episodes of volcanic activity. The data also suggests the volcano has experienced a range of eruption styles, from explosive eruptions to effusive, long-lasting flows, and that the volcanic deposits extend farther from the volcano than previously thought.

“This study provides the first detailed information about the spatial extent and style of eruptions at Maat Mons,” said Gülcher. “Our results highlight the complex volcanic activity on Venus and the need for more high-resolution data to understand the history of its volcanism.”

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The study raises new questions about the cause of Maat Mons’ unusual size, its location on the planet, and the nature of the magma that feeds it. While the exact cause of the volcano’s complex eruption history is still unknown, the researchers speculate that it may be linked to the slow rotation rate of Venus and the possible presence of a mantle plume.

As the closest planet to Earth, Venus is an object of scientific interest and has been studied extensively for clues about the early evolution of our solar system. The new discoveries about Maat Mons add to our understanding of Venus’ geological activity and the possibility of volcanic activity on other planets.

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The research was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets and was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The study’s findings will pave the way for future research into the volcanic activity of Venus and the clues it holds about the history of our solar system.

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