Volcanic processes in the Solar System

Earthquakes & Volcanoes (USGS)


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This article stresses that terrestrial volcanism represents only part of the range of volcanism in the solar system. Earth processes of volcanicity are dominated by plate tectonics, which does not seem to operate on other planets, except possibly on Venus. Lunar volcanicity is dominated by lava effusion at enormous rates. Mars is similar, with the addition to huge shield volcanoes developed over fixed hotspots. Io, the moon closest to Jupiter, is the most active body in the Solar System and, for example, much sulphur and silicates are emitted. The eruptions of Io are generated by heating caused by tides induced by Jupiter. Europa nearby seems to emit water from fractures and Ganymede is similar. The satellites of Saturn and Uranus are also marked by volcanic craters, but they are of very low temperature melts, possibly of ammonia and water. The volcanism of the solar system is generally more exotic, the greater the distance from Earth. -A.Scarth

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Volcanic processes in the Solar System
Series title Earthquakes & Volcanoes (USGS)
Volume 19
Issue 4
Year Published 1987
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Earthquakes & Volcanoes (USGS)
First page 128
Last page 137