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October 04, 2011

Epic volcanic activity flooded Mercury's north polar region

Geological professor James W, Head III at Brown University and two dozen colleagues recently discovered that Mercury has had volcanic activity. The data came from the orbiting MESSENGER spacecraft which was sent to to examine Mercury's undiscovered northern high latitudes. The report claims that Mercury had volcanic activity 3.5-4 billion years ago. The magnitude of the volcanic activity was big enough to cover 60% of the United States. In some parts of the planet the lava was a mile deep. To distinguish lava flows on Mercury from lava flows on Earth, Professor head stated that, "the lava flows don't build volcano like we see on Hawaii; rather they cover up the place where the lava is coming out, and they're difficult to understand in the context of the current Earth eruption conditions". The MESSENGER spacecraft has been orbiting Mercury since March. The team hopes that the spacecraft MESSENGER will allow them to better understand the minerals and chemical composition in the northern high latitudes. They also hope to compare the volcanic activity on different parts of Mercury.

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Posted by chazr at October 4, 2011 01:28 PM


The one thing that living organisms need is energy to survive, this means that extremophiles would thrive near volcanic activity if they got their main source of energy from the lava. Solid discovery.

Posted by: jeffsong at October 4, 2011 11:47 PM

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