Eruptions can come in two types: literal and figurative. Some planetary bodies are literally erupting. Others are causing figurative eruptions in theories. Here are some recent news stories about planets, moons, comets and other objects circling our sun and other stars. There hasn’t been much news from Mercury or Venus this month, so we’ll start on the home planet and work outward.
Earth volcanoes: Earth is busting out all over. You can watch the fireworks going on at Mt. Etna on this BBC News video clip. Live Science has a video of the hottest, deepest volcano on earth, found underwater near Fiji. New Scientist resurrected the “heretical” view that the dinosaurs were killed by lava, not a meteor; two giant blobs of mantle that erupted onto the surface. One geologist remarked, “This will be controversial – it flies in the face of much of the research from the last 30 years.” Wynne Perry at Live Science (see MSNBC) entertained the entertaining question, “Did a methane burp clear the way for the dinosaurs?” Over at Science Daily, the idea was presented that much of earth’s surface was formed from ancient flood basalts, “giant lava eruptions that coat large swaths of land or ocean floor” periodically. Incidentally, geologists are not sure where Earth’s internal heat comes from, especially since Japan’s KamLAND antineutrino detector came up short (seeScience Daily). “One thing we can say with near certainty is that radioactive decay alone is not enough to account for Earth’s heat energy,” remarked Stuart Freedman of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. “Whether the rest is primordial heator comes from some other source is an unanswered question.”
Moon volcanoes: A region of volcanism was found on the back side of the moon. Most of the volcanic evidence, the maria, is on the near side, but in the middle of the cratered regions on the far side, reported PhysOrg, “a small volcanic province created by the upwelling of silicic magma” was reported by remote sensing of chemical clues by the Lunar Prospector. “The unusual location of the province and the surprising composition of the lava that formed it offer tantalizing clues to the Moon’s thermal history.”….
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