Volcanoes on planet Venus discovery

Volcanoes on Venus. This perspective view of the geology of Venus superposed on topography shows a broad topographic rise (Atla Regio) in the center (red, with radiating purple spokes) and surrounding volcanic plains (green and blue)

From Brown University in the USA:

Study suggests active volcanism on Venus

16 hours ago by Kevin Stacey

An international team of scientists has found some of the best evidence yet that Venus, Earth’s nearest neighbor, is volcanically active.

In combing through data from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission, the scientists found transient spikes in temperature at several spots on the planet’s surface. The hotspots, which were found to flash and fade over the course of just a few days, appear to be generated by active flows of lava on the surface.

“We were able to show strong evidence that Venus is volcanically, and thus internally, active today,” said James W. Head, a geologist at Brown University and co-author of a paper describing the new research. “This is a major finding that helps us understand the evolution of planets like our own.”

The research is published online in Geophysical Research Letters.

The hotspots turned up in thermal imaging taken by the Venus Express spacecraft’s Venus Monitoring Camera. The data showed spikes in temperature of several hundred degrees Fahrenheit in spots ranging in size from 1 square kilometer to over 200 kilometers.

The spots were clustered in a large rift zone called Ganiki Chasma. Rift zones are formed by stretching of the crust by internal forces and hot magma that rises toward the surface. Head and Russian colleague Mikhail Ivanov had previously mapped the region as part of a global geologic map of Venus generated from the Soviet Venera missions in the 1980s and U.S. Magellan mission in the 1990s. The mapping work had shown that Ganiki Chasma was quite young, geologically speaking, but just how young wasn’t clear until now.

“We knew that Ganiki Chasma was the result of volcanism that had occurred fairly recently in geological terms, but we didn’t know if it formed yesterday or was a billion years old,” Head said. “The active anomalies detected by Venus Express fall exactly where we had mapped these relatively young deposits and suggest ongoing activity.”

The latest finding is consistent with other data from Venus Express that have hinted at very recent volcanic activity. In 2010, infrared imaging from several volcanoes seemed to indicate lava flows from thousands to a few million years old. A few years later, scientists reported transient spikes in sulfur dioxide in Venus’ upper atmosphere, another potential signal of active volcanism.

The observation of hotspots by Venus Express, combined with the geologic mapping from Venera and Magellan, make a strong case for a volcanically active Venus, Head says.

“This discovery fits nicely with the emerging picture of very recent activity in Venus’ geologic history,” he said. “These remarkable findings were the result of collaborations spanning many years and many political borders. They underscore the importance of international collaboration in exploring our solar system and understanding how it evolves.”

Explore further: Learn about Venus, the hothouse planet near Earth

More information: “Active Volcanism on Venus in the Ganiki Chasma Rift Zone,” E. V. Shalygin, Geophysical Research Letters, 2015. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL064088/full

Galapagos volcano eruption continues

This 3 June 2015 video says about itself:

Volcano News!! Galapagos Island Volcano Spews River of Lava

Ecuador’s Wolf Volcano in the Galapagos Islands erupted on May 25 for the first time in 33 years. Footage released by the Galapagos National Park shows a glowing river of lava.

From 3 News in New Zealand:

Lava continues to flow from Wolf Volcano

Wednesday 3 June 2015 11:15 p.m.

Tourists in the Galapagos Islands have been given a spectacular view of lava flowing into the ocean as the Wolf Volcano continues erupting.

The volcano began spewing flames, smoke and lava last Monday.

Authorities say the lava is flowing away from the world’s only population of pink iguanas, which live on the island’s northwest tip.

Scientists from Trinity College Dublin have just discovered how to prise volcanic secrets from crystals, which means they are better able to piece together the history of global geography and to predict future eruptions of : here.

Galapagos volcano calms, pink iguanas safe

This is a David Attenborough video on Galapagos pink iguanas.

From AFP news agency:

May 26, 2015

Galapagos volcano calms, pink iguanas out of danger

A volcano in the Galapagos Islands whose fiery eruption raised fears for the world’s only population of pink iguanas has calmed, sparing the unique critters from danger, officials said Tuesday.

Wolf volcano is still showing signs of activity but has died down since a tour boat to the area found it breathing tongues of fire, puffing smoke and spilling bright orange streams of lava Monday, said officials at the Galapagos National Park and Ecuador’s Geophysics Institute.

“We haven’t had any more explosions like yesterday’s, which suggests a decrease in activity. However, there are still lava flows, which is normal in these cases,” said Alexandra Alvarado of the Geophysics Institute.

The island, Isabela, is home to the only known pink land iguanas in the world. The species, Conolophus marthae, lives at the foot of the volcano and is listed as critically endangered, with a population of only about 500.

The area, which is uninhabited by humans, is also home to members of a rare species of giant tortoise, Chelonoidis becki.

But the animals live on the northwest side of the volcano, opposite the , and appear to have been spared from harm, a park official said.

“We will likely carry out more flights over the area, but the are safe, and the tortoises, because the lava is flowing down the opposite side,” the official said.

Wolf volcano had last erupted in 1982.

It is one of five volcanoes on Isabela island, the largest in the Galapagos.

The Pacific archipelago, which sits about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador, was made famous by Charles Darwin‘s studies of its breathtaking biodiversity, which was crucial in his development of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

UNESCO, which has declared the Galapagos a World Heritage Site, has warned the islands’ environment is in danger from increased tourism and the introduction of invasive species.

The pink iguanas, which were discovered in 1986, were established as a separate species in 2009 after an analysis of their genetic makeup determined they were distinct from their cousins, the Galapagos land iguanas.

Explore further: Fears for pink iguanas as Galapagos volcano erupts

Thankfully, the animals now appear to be in the clear, along with their neighbours, yellow iguanas and giant tortoises. The volcano is still erupting, but it has calmed down and the lava streams are flowing away from where the animals live: here.

Eight to 16 million years ago, highly explosive volcanism occurred in the area of today’s Galapagos Islands. This is shown for the first time by analyses of core samples obtained by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program in the eastern Pacific Ocean: here.

Galápagos volcano erupts, pink iguana threatened?

This 2012 video is called Sir David Attenborough Reveals The Pink Iguana on Galapagos 3D.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Galápagos Islands volcanic eruption could threaten pink iguana species

The Wolf volcano, located at the highest point of the islands that inspired Charles Darwin, has erupted for the first time in more than 30 years

Tuesday 26 May 2015 03.27 BST

A volcano perched atop one of Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands erupted in the early hours of Monday, the local authorities said, potentially threatening a unique species of pink iguanas.

The roughly 1.7km (1.1 mile) high Wolf volcano is located on Isabela Island, home to a rich variety of flora and fauna typical of the archipelago that helped inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution following his 1835 visit.

“The Wolf volcano is not located near a populated area. There is not risk for the human population. This is the only population of pink iguanas in the world,” Galápagos national park said in a posting on Twitter.

The park posted pictures showing lava pouring down the sides of the Wolf volcano, the Galápagos’ highest point, while a dark plume estimated to be 10km (6.4 miles) high, billowed overhead.

Wolf had been inactive for 33 years, according to the park.

The lava is flowing down the volcano’s southern face while the iguanas, officially an endangered species, inhabit the opposite side, the Environment Ministry said, adding it expected the animals to escape harm.

The flow is likely to reach the sea, however, where it could harm marine life, the Geophysics Institute said separately. While populated areas of the island are safe from the eruption, the institute said some of the ash cloud could descend upon them.

In April, unusual seismic activity was also reported at the Sierra volcano on the same Isabela Island, the archipelago’s biggest, where yellow iguanas and giant turtles also live.

The eruption in Ecuador comes on the heels of eruptions in Chile, another South American country located on the so-called Pacific ring of fire.

Ecuadorean volcano erupts

This is a Dutch TV video about the eruption of the Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador. Thousands of people are being evacuated. See also here.

Two years ago in southern Chile, a volcano was erupting. About 4,000 people living around the Chaiten were evacuated.

This is a Dutch TV video about the Chaiten eruption.

Pacific ocean tsunami

From the BBC:

Samoa tsunami kills ‘at least 20’

A tsunami caused by a powerful earthquake in the South Pacific has killed at least 20 people and injured 50 in Samoa, local media report.

Dr Lemalu Fiu of the main hospital in the capital, Apia, said the number of casualties is expected to rise as the injured arrive from coastal areas.

An 8.3-magnitude quake struck at 1748 GMT, generating 5.1ft (1.57m) waves in Apia and Pago Pago, American Samoa. …

The PTWC – a branch of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – issued a general alert for the South Pacific region.

Stuart Weinstein, the deputy director of the PTWC, told the BBC that the agency was monitoring the situation, but said the wave was expected to be “much smaller” than the 2004 Asian tsunami which killed about 230,000 people in 11 countries.

Mr Weinstein said Tuesday’s quake had only had 3% of the energy generated by the 2004 quake.

He said he expected the quake to be destructive in the areas closest to the epicentre, but said it “remains to be seen” how far any devastation would spread.

By 2200 GMT, the tsunami warning had been cancelled.

The Samoa islands comprise two separate entities – the nation of Samoa and American Samoa, a US territory – with a total population of about 250,000 people.

Update: A tsunami triggered by a strong quake in the South Pacific has killed at least 65 people in Samoa and more than 20 in American Samoa, say reports: here.

Samoa tsunami: more than 100 feared dead on Pacific islands: here.

Samoa tsunami – live blog: here.

Where did the tsunami hit? Here.

The potential for a huge Pacific Ocean tsunami on the West Coast of North America may be greater than previously thought. The new study of geological evidence along the Gulf of Alaska coast suggests that future tsunamis could reach a scale far beyond that suffered in the tsunami generated by the great 1964 Alaskan earthquake: here.