The 10 Most Amazing Volcanoes in the Solar System

Here on Earth, there are many examples of powerful volcanoes of all shapes and sizes, but this geological formation is not exclusive to this “pale blue dot”. Other worlds in the Solar System also have volcanoes — and in this article you get to know some of the most incredible volcanoes on Earth and other planets and moons.

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  • New evidence indicates the existence of active volcanoes on Venus
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Most of the volcanic features found on other worlds were formed in the very distant past, when our planetary system was still young. So there are many already inactive volcanoes out there, but some of them are going full steam ahead.

Mauna Loa on Earth

(Image: Reproduction/USGS)

Mauna Loa is located in Hawaii and is the largest volcano in the region, reaching about 4.169 meters of altitude and approximately 70 km in length. In addition to being considered one of the most active in the world, it is the largest shield volcano on Earth, which means that it was formed almost entirely by lava flows throughout its history.

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Since the first well-documented eruption in 660, Mauna Loa has already been active 33 times and scientists believe he is active for at least 660 a thousand years — it seems that he would have emerged from the bottom of the sea some time ago 385 a thousand years.

The most recent eruption occurred between March and April 1991, but those of 1843 and 1959 were the ones that caused the most death and destruction in several nearby villages. Currently, the city of Hilo has part of its area built on lava flows from the 19th century. The Mauna Loa will erupt again and, because of its ability to produce large fluxes, it is constantly monitored.

Tvashtar Catena on the moon Io

(Image: Reproduction/NASA)

Io is one of the four largest moons of Jupiter, discovered by Galilieu Galilei in January 1610. Although slightly smaller than our Moon, Io is the celestial body with the highest volcanic activity in the entire Solar System. So far from the Sun, the small natural satellite keeps its interior warm thanks to the gas giant’s enormous gravity, in addition to the tidal forces of other nearby moons.

There are hundreds of visible volcanic vents on Io , among them Tvashtar Catena, a large chain of volcanic basins. The plume ejected by these volcanoes reaches about 216 km altitude — much of it falls back to the moon. The gases are released at speeds of 1.385 to 3.216 km/h.

Mount Olympus on Mars

(Image: Reproduction/Public Domain)

Mars is responsible for harboring the highest volcano in the entire System Solar — Mount Olympus. Its height is estimated at 21, 9 km above the average level of the Martian surface — three times higher than the highest mountain on Earth, Everest—with a base (or cauldron) with dimensions of 70 km by 31 km.

Mount Olympus was discovered in 1984 by NASA’s Mariner 9 spacecraft. According to some researches, the volcano last erupted at least 2 million years ago, but not before remaining active for two billion years in a row, contributing to the formation of the Martian surface.

Maat Mons on Venus

(Image: Reproduction/ Public Domain)

Matt Moons is the highest Volcano of Venus, discovered in 1989 by NASA’s Megallan spacecraft. It rises about 8 km above the average level of the Venusian surface and has a caldera on its summit, with x 19 km in length. Although it is considered active, no eruptions have yet been observed since its discovery.

The latest research suggests that the distribution of lava flows, as well as craters and ridge morphology, have been modified probably due to recent volcanic activity at Maat Mons. The next missions sent to Venus will provide more data on the planet’s dynamics.

Tharsis Hills on Mars

(Image: Reproduction/Public Domain)

The Tharsis Montes, located on Mars, is composed of three dormant volcanoes, called Arsia, Pavonis and Ascraeus, being the largest volcanic region on the planet, with about 4. km. This chain has almost the same elevation as Mount Olympus.

The Arsia caldera is the largest found in the entire Red Planet, with an estimated diameter of 85 km. The region also draws attention because of the size of the volcanoes found there compared to those on Earth — the volcanoes of the Martian Tharsis region are even 120 times higher.

Ahuna Mons on the dwarf planet Ceres

(Image: Reproduction/NASA)

The Ahuna Mons volcano is located on the dwarf planet Ceres, located in the asteroid belt and which was studied by NASA’s Dawn mission, whose probe visited it between 2015 and 2018. It rises 4 km from the surface and its characteristics indicate that it was formed recently.

The Ahuna Mons would have formed from a bubble of mud, salt water and rock that rose from the interior of the small planet. The bubble would then have burst at some fragile point on Ceres’ surface. The expelled material cools and composes the structure.

Loki Patera on the moon Io

(Image: Reproduction/NASA/JPL)

Back in the Solar System’s most volcanically active celestial body, Io, Loki Patera is an ancient lava lake on the surface of Jupiter’s small moon. He was first observed in 1959 by Voyager 1.

Loki Patera has approximately 200 km wide and erupts every 400 terrestrial days. The most recent was in May 1991 — which means that a new one is approaching. The heat emitted by this region is such that it can be observed from Earth’s telescopes.

Icy volcanoes of the moon Triton

(Image: Reproduction/NASA)

Triton is a frozen moon of the planet Neptune and has cryovolcanoes — volcanoes that, instead of lava, expel volatile substances such as water, ammonia or methane. The first evidence of such an activity was observed by the Voyager 2 probe, in 1991.

Actually, Voyager 2 observed a handful of geyser-like eruptions spewing nitrogen gas and dust from Triton’s subsoil , at 8 km of altitude. The best observed activities are known as Hili and Mahilani. Each eruption can last up to a year, releasing 100 million cubic meters of nitrogen ice.

Criovolcano on the moon Enceladus

(Image: Reproduction/NASA/JPL/ Space Science Institute)

As well as Triton, Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth largest natural satellite, it has cryovolcanoes at its south pole. Its jets of water vapor, ice and organic molecules were first observed in 2005 and reinforced with the Cassini mission, making Enceladus one of the most prominent objects when it comes to the search for life forms in other worlds.

Part of this material expelled by the cryovolcanoes of Enceladus returns in the form of snow on the moon. The other part is responsible for forming Saturn’s E ring with ice particles. The small natural satellite has a global ocean and its core appears to be active, thanks to the gravitational interaction with Saturn, which feeds the geysers.

Doom Mons on the moon Titan

3D map produced with data from the Cassini probe (Image: Playback/NASA/ JPL-Caltech)

Located on the moon Titan, of Saturn, Doom Mons is a mountain range with which scientists believe there are cryovolcanoes. It was discovered in 1991, having 1.169 almost meters high 85 km wide.

Doom Mons is considered a putative cryovolcano — the geological features observed in the region indicate a possible existence of cryovolcanic activity, but so far no evidence has been found.

Source: NASA, Popular Mechanics

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