Volcanism Caused The Death Of Planet Venus

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It is possible that the massive worldwide volcanism that turned 80% of Venus’ surface into lava was the determining element that changed Venus from a moist and gentle world into the stifling planet that it is now.

Venus has a scorching surface temperature of 867 degrees Fahrenheit and a crushing pressure of 90 atmospheres behind the thick clouds of carbon dioxide laced with corrosive sulfuric acid. Venus, sometimes referred to as Earth’s “evil twin,” suffers from a greenhouse effect gone haywire, which is likely exacerbated by the fact that Venus is nearly 25 million miles closer to the sun than Earth is.

But there’s mounting proof that Venus wasn’t always like this and that it may have been a temperate world somewhat like Earth once – perhaps more recently, in geological terms, than was previously believed.

The surface of Venus, which is normally shrouded by the planet’s dense atmosphere, was radar-mapped by NASA’s Magellan mission in the 1990s. They discovered that volcanic basalt rock blanketed most of the landscape. These vast igneous provinces formed as a result of massive volcanism that lasted hundreds of thousands of years or more, at some point in the past billion years.

For example, a million years’ worth of these occurrences, each covering tens of thousands of kilometers in lava, may have pumped so much carbon dioxide into Venus’ atmosphere that its climate would have collapsed. Since water vapor is also a greenhouse gas, the effect would have been accelerated by the evaporation of any oceans. Water would have evaporated into space over time, leaving behind only carbon dioxide and an unfriendly planet.

Given the regularity with which huge igneous provinces have been formed by massive volcanic eruptions on Earth, it is reasonable to assume that multiple comparable events might have occurred on Venus over the past million years as well. Those events may have left permanent marks on Venus.