Academic journal article Science and Children

When Mercury's Volcanic Activity Came to a Halt

Academic journal article Science and Children

When Mercury's Volcanic Activity Came to a Halt

Article excerpt

New research finds that major volcanic activity on the planet Mercury most likely ended about 3.5 billion years ago, adding insights into the geological evolution of Mercury and what happens when rocky planets cool and contract.

There are two types of volcanic activity: effusive and explosive. Explosive volcanism is often a violent event that results in large ash and debris eruptions, such as the Mount Saint Helens eruption in 1980. Effusive volcanism, believed to be a key process by which planets form their crusts, refers to widespread lava flows that slowly pour out over the landscape.

Determining the ages of effusive volcanic deposits can give researchers a handle on a planet's geological history. For example, effusive volcanism was active a few hundred million years ago on Venus, a few million years ago on Mars, and it still takes place on Earth today. Until now, the duration of effusive volcanic activity on Mercury, made of the same materials as these other planets, had not been known. …

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