New research suggests explosive volcanic activity on Venus

ITHACA, N.Y. – Traces of the gas phosphine indicate volcanic activity on Venus, according to new research from Cornell University.

Last fall, researchers exposed that phosphine was discovered in trace quantities in the world’s upper environment. That discovery guaranteed the slim possibility that phosphine functions as a biological signature for the hot, harmful world.

Now Cornell researchers state the chemical finger print support a various and crucial clinical discover: a geological signature, revealing proof of explosive volcanoes on the strange world.

“The phosphine is not telling us about the biology of Venus,” stated Jonathan Lunine, teacher of physical sciences and chair of the astronomy department at Cornell. “It’s telling us about the geology. Science is pointing to a planet that has active explosive volcanism today or in the very recent past.”

Lunine and Ngoc Truong, a doctoral prospect in geology, authored the research study, “Volcanically Extruded Phosphides as an Abiotic Source of Venusian Phosphine,” released July 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Truong and Lunine argue that volcanism is the methods for phosphine to enter into Venus’ upper environment, after taking a look at observations from the ground-based, submillimeter-wavelength James Clerk Maxwell Telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in northern Chile.

If Venus has phosphide – a kind of phosphorous present in the world’s deep mantle – and, if it is given the surface area in an explosive, volcanic method and after that injected into the environment, those phosphides respond with the Venusian environment’s sulfuric acid to form phosphine, Truong stated.

Lunine stated their phosphine design “suggests explosive volcanism occurring,” while “radar images from the Magellan spacecraft in the 1990s show some geologic features could support this.”

In 1978, on NASA’s Pioneer Venus orbiter objective, researchers exposed variations of sulfur dioxide in Venus’ upper environment, meaning the possibility of explosive volcanism, Truong stated, comparable to the scale of Earth’s Krakatoa volcanic eruption in Indonesia in 1883.

But, Truong stated, “confirming explosive volcanism on Venus through the gas phosphine was totally unexpected.”


Funding for the research was offered by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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