Can Volcanoes be Ice Cold?

Most of us associate Volcanoes with red hot lava, erupting violently out of Earth, splashing and scalding the surroundings.

But seldom do we stop and acknowledge that the Volcanoes are actually responsible for birth of life on Earth, they make atmospheric changes by adding core material and create new structures. Scientists concede that most of the preliminary life that was created on earth happened due to these gigantic eruptions. Back then, Earth was very volatile and needed an outlet for the pent up energy. Volcanoes helped in doing so. And as things settled down, they became wealthy breeding ground for organisms.

As long as I remember, I have been smitten with the red hot lava actually Magnum, often seen on TV and photos. Yes, perhaps destruction is way too beautiful and my partiality towards red, a personal choice.

But, today I saw a Documentary “How Universe Works” on Netflix, where I came to know that Volcanoes are not limited to Earth. They are found on other planets and their moons as well. In fact, Mars boasts of the largest Volcano, Olympus Mons, which is 624 kms in diameter!

Shocked! Yes, it almost covers an area of Arizona. And, its larger size actually revealed a very interesting fact about the crust of Earth. The crust of Earth is in continuous motion, as a result the single hot spot in the Core, gives rise to Volcanoes at various locations. However Mars is hard solid. As a result, the crust doesn’t move and the hot spot underneath continuously pumps out lava, resulting in huge shield crater of such gigantic size. Though, it also means that the atmosphere becomes poisonous due to excess of methane and it becomes difficult to support life.

However, still here the Volcanoes must have remained hot, while they were active. When we move a little outward in our Solar System, we encounter Volcanoes that are Ice Cold!!

Yes, one of the moons of Jupiter, Io, has ice cold Volcanoes erupting, every time, it comes nearer to the planet. The moon gets squeezed and expanded due to continued pressure exerted by the biggest planet of our Solar System and thus is violently erupted every now and then. Whether, it may support life or not, is a mystery not yet solved, but once Io was supposed to be cold and barren while now we know that it is thriving with activity.

A little farther, Saturn has a tiny Moon, that actually adds particulate matter to its Rings. Yes Cassini, recently sent pictures to reveal that Saturn’s tiny Moon Enceladus, is a contributor of plumes to the Planet.

It is known that ring like structure around Saturn is gaseous and not much under the influence of gravity. Often, these light particles get blown away, and yet the rings do not disappear. Scientists were earlier perplexed at this phenomenon, but the volcanic eruptions on Enceladus gave them a new insight.

The Volcanoes are present on Titan and Triton as well. All of them are ice cold eruptions, where even nitrogen has solidified and under pressure of gravity, often violently explodes, giving rise to Volcanoes.

The World of Volcanoes is charming, inviting yet scary. May be there are many more mysteries hidden behind that only time will reveal. As of now, all these seem to be straight out of some Sci-fi novel or movie. True, fact is stranger than fiction.

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