Sat. Nov 27th, 2021

4 Impressive Geological Structures In Our Solar System

When we talk about amazing geological features, we often limit ourselves to those on Earth. Here, in no particular order, are the five geological structures in the solar system (excluding Earth) that are most impressive.


1.The grandest canyon

We have left out the solar system’s biggest volcano, Olympus Mons on Mars, so that planet’s most spectacular canyon, Valles Marineris could be included. Being 3,000km long, hundreds of kilometres wide and up to eight kilometres deep, this is best seem from space. If you were lucky enough to stand on one rim, the opposite rim would be way beyond the horizon.

It was probably initiated by fracturing when an adjacent volcanic region (called Tharsis) began to bulge upwards, but was widened and deepened by a series of catastrophic floods that climaxed more than 3 billion years ago.


4 Impressive Geological Structures In Our Solar System


  1. Venus’ fold mountains

We are going to learn a lot more about Venus in the 2030s when two Nasa missions and one from Esa (European Space Agency) arrive. Venus is nearly the same size, mass and density as the Earth, causing geologists to puzzle over why it lacks Earth-style plate tectonics and why (or indeed whether) it has comparatively little active volcanism. How does the planet get its heat out?

For example, the northern margin of the highlands named Ovda Regio looks strikingly similar, apart from the lack of rivers cutting through the eroded, fold-like pattern, to “fold mountains” on Earth such as the Appalachians, which are the result of a collision between continents.


  1. Blasted Mercury

Blasted mercury is both one of the solar system’s largest impact basins and an explosive volcano within it. Mercury’s 1,550km diameter Caloris basin was formed by a major asteroid impact about 3.5 billion years ago, and soon after that its floor was flooded by lavas.


Some time later, a series of explosive eruptions blasted kilometres-deep holes through the solidified lavas near the edge of the basin where the lava cap was thinnest. These sprayed volcanic ash particles out over a range of tens of kilometres.

Explosive eruptions are driven by the force of expanding gas, and are a surprising find on Mercury, whose proximity to the Sun was previously expected to have starved it of such volatile substances – the heat would have made them boil off. Scientists suspect that there were in fact several explosive eruptions, possibly spaced over a prolonged timescale. This means that gas-forming volatile materials (whose composition will remain uncertain until Esa’s BepiColombo mission starts work in 2026) were repeatedly available in Mercury’s magmas.


  1. The tallest cliff?

In soil or vegetation-rich regions on Earth, cliffs offer the largest exposures of clean rock. Although dangerous to approach, they reveal an uninterrupted cross-section of rock and can be great for fossil hunting. Because geologists love them so much, We give you the seven kilometres-high Verona Rupes. This is a feature on Uranus’s small moon Miranda that is often described as “the tallest cliff in the solar system”, including on a recent Nasa website. This even goes so far as to remark that if you were careless enough to take a tumble off the top, it would take you 12 minutes to fall to the bottom.


Subhangee Guha

Break the Newz.

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