(ORDO NEWS) — Interested in reports of recent volcanic eruptions on Venus? University of Washington planetary scientists Paul Byrne and Rebecca Hahn want you to use their new map of 85,000 volcanoes on Venus to help locate the next active lava flow.
Byrne and Hahn used radar images from NASA‘s Magellan mission to catalog volcanoes across Venus on a global scale. Their database contains 85,000 volcanoes, about 99% of which are less than 5 km in diameter.
“Since the NASA Magellan mission in the 1990s, we have had many serious questions about the geology of Venus, including its volcanic characteristics,” Byrne explained.
“But with the recent discovery of active volcanism on Venus, understanding exactly where volcanoes are concentrated on the planet, how many there are, how big they are, etc., becomes even more important – especially since we will have new Venus data.
“We came up with the idea of compiling a global catalog because no one had done it on such a scale before,” said Khan, a graduate student in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Washington and the paper’s first author.
“It was tedious, but I had experience with the ArcGIS software that I used to create the map. This tool was not available when this data first became available in the 90s.”
Byrne and Hahn’s new study includes a detailed analysis of where volcanoes are located, where and how they cluster, and how their spatial distribution correlates with the geophysical properties of the planet.
This work gives the most complete picture of the volcanic properties of Venus.
Although volcanoes are located on almost the entire surface of Venus, scientists have found relatively fewer volcanoes in the diameter range of 20-100 km, which, they suggest, may be evidence of the presence of magma.
Byrne and Hahn also wanted to get a closer look at the small volcanoes on Venus, those less than 5 kilometers across.
“These are the most common volcanic features on the planet and make up about 99% of my dataset,” Khan said.
“We studied their distribution using various spatial statistics to find out if the volcanoes are clustered around other structures on Venus, or if they are clustered in certain areas.”
While 85,000 volcanoes on Venus may seem like a lot, Khan believes there are hundreds of thousands of small geological features with volcanic properties lurking on the planet’s surface.
“NASA and ESA will send a mission to Venus in the early 2030s to get high-resolution radar images of the surface,” Byrne said. “With these images, we can look for those small volcanoes that we predict are there.”
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