We are not alone out there!

Image from Part of Magellan FMIDR 20S003, centered near 18.5S, 6E. Microscopic insect or a volcano?

Yes you are at the correct site and no, I haven’t lost the plot – yet!

The following post is intended as a ‘mouth-waterer’ just to show the great variety of volcanism available.

Volcanism is not restricted to  the Earth, as evidenced by various probes sent to study other members of the Solar System. Obviously, there is an absence of rock samples – other than a few meteorites and collected lunar samples – and no direct on-the-ground observations, thus features and rock types have to be by analogy to terrestrial types. The planets of our System are divided into the Rocky planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars with a relatively thin or no atmosphere surrounding a dense ‘rock-ball’; the remainder classed as Gas Giants with very thick atmospheres around a proportionally small rock core (Pluto excluded as it is now classified as a ‘captured’ Kuiper Belt object). Throughout the System there is usually evidence to some extent of massive impact cratering associated with the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB) 4.1-3.8 billion years ago. On our Moon the cratering seen dates from this event and it can be argued, that the Mare are ‘volcanic’ as massive lava floods released by impactors rupturing through the crust. The magmatic origin of these is not in doubt, as nunatak-like mountain peaks and relic ‘ghost’ crater rims protrude the surface; similarly some lava-flooded craters, eg Plato, have lava filled floors. These structures have not been dealt with below, not having true volcanic origins – ie extrusion of liquid material not being related to mantle plumes or to tectonism.

The information given herein has been gleaned from various web sites and acknowledge by posting as necessary.


The smaller form below, with a 35km crater, is clearly a collapse caldera with both radial and ring faults well developed seen cutting paler coloured lava flows. Terracing within the crater suggests the presence of a lava lake.

Image part of Magellan F-MIDR 05N228

Shield volcanoes, mostly associated with tectonic rifting, are well represented, with Sif Mons and Gula Mons, at 300 and 400km across respectively, but with corresponding heights of only 2 and 3km amongst the largest .

Magellan Press Release Image P-38724, JPL image MGN-7 2

The smaller Sapas Mons, with a diameter of a mere 120km, vertical image shows well developed flows which from their geometry, appear to be of a fairly fluid lava, possibly basaltic. The false colour radar image shows light colours over rough reflective surfaces, darker over smooth and indicates a change of lava type with decreasing age. The arrows locate impact craters.

Magellan Press Release Image P-38360, JPL image MGN-51

Anemone 1, 40km across, one of the small variety of shields, again shows the radar reflective blocky lavas radiating from the cone, with an extensive reflective lava field beyond, possibly a-a type basalt.

Part of Magellan F-MIDR 10S200, centered on ~9.5S, 201E

Volcanic domes each approximately 25km across, below, show the characteristic light radar reflectance of blocky material and this allied to the absence of obvious lava flows and the radially stretched surfaces to the domes suggests a very viscous magma as rhyolite building the domes from within.

Further Venus images can be found below



The Moon

Moving to the Earth – not dealt with here – and the Moon, volcanic activity, other than the Mare flood events, is not seen to any great extent on the Moon being limited to a few relatively small domes and cones. As the Moon is composed almost entirely of basaltic material, it is thought domes are the result of extrusion of viscous cool basalt lava and not rhyolite. However photographs of these features are very poor.



Unlike the almost totally volcano covered surface of Venus, Mars has volcanism concentrated in 4 provinces together with extensive volcanic plains. One of the greatest shield volcanoes so far located in the Solar System, Olympus Mons, with a basal diameter around 600km (Iceland has a width – from Snaefellsness to Egilsstaðir – of around 500km) with a height of some 25000m is located in the Tharsis Province. The vast size has been attributed to the presence of a very long-lived mantle hotspot and a lack of plate tectonics, the latter as having prevented Hawaii reaching similar proportions. The periphery of Mons Olympus is a cliff-like edge some 8km in height the origin of this feature as yet unknown. High resolution images show fresh surfaces to flows, as recent as 20 million years has beed suggested.

Image Wikipedia, NASA/JPL. Comparative diagram to scale between Hawaii and Olympus Mons.Image Wikipedeia, NASA/JPL. Tharsis Province.

Olympus Mons off to the apparent north-west of 3 volcanoes – Arsia Mons, Pavonia Mons and (top) Ascraeus Mons. The green coloured area to the ‘north and west’ of Olympus Mons is a vast lava field from this feature.

Alba Mons, also on Tharsis – the very large red region at the top of the diagram above,  is perhaps less obvious than Olympus Mons, having a very shallow slope around 0.5 degree and 7km high, but the volcanism covers a much greater area, with flow fields of highly fluid lava extending up to 1300km from the eruptive centres. The age of this structure has been suggested at c3.2×10^9 years.
Images for some Martian structures can be seen here:


The Gas giants

Moving to the Gas Giants, visible ‘volcanism’ is restricted to their satellites owing to their dense, thick atmospheres. In the case of Jupiter, of the 4 major satellites (Io, Europa, Callisto and Ganymede), the innermost, Io (with a diameter of  3642km) is perhaps the most active of all bodies in the Solar System, the volcanism/magma generation being a result of the massive tidal forces induced by Jupiter’s gravity field 422,000km distant. By comparison, the Earth-Moon mean distance is 384,400km.

Density measurements of Io (mean density 3.5g/cc) indicate a probable ultra-basic mantle surrounding an iron core whilst the surface is covered with volcanic silicate rock together with much sulphur derived from sulphide minerals. There is a marked absence of impact events and indicates the surface has been much reworked. Volcanoes, here called Paterae, resemble terrestrial calderas

Tvashtar Paterae showing lava extrusion

Galileo images November 1999 and February 2000 respectively.New Horizons probe animation of erupting Tvashtar.

Galileo image, the orange and red colours are derived from sulphur allotropes of the vent Pele, the dark grey from silicate eruptions from Pilan Patera.

Image by NASA.

Further out still, satellites of Saturn and Neptune may show cryo-volcanic activity, mainly evidenced by the Voyager probes. This activity seen on Triton, one of Neptune’s moons takes the form of ‘geysirs’ of nitrogen gas and dust particles.

Image by NASA/JPL.

If this post has sparked the imagination to look at the heavens and you want to purchace a telescope, do not buy a cheap one or one sold on magnification only; you will be disappointed. Look into astronomy magazines first; Meade and Celestron are excellent instruments.

Alan C


430 thoughts on “We are not alone out there!

  1. Maybe Carl and Lurking are right. This looks like the day after of Teneguia’s eruption when everything around was degassing at the spot. Maybe Bobis coming to a halt. Still, there are those really deep earthquakes taking place… New magma? Don’t know what to say…

  2. Birgit, hi there!
    Uraniun (UR) and Thorium (TH) are two radioactive minerals supposedly found in the samples collected from Bob. They seem to indicate the presence of mantle magma rising to feed our hungry Bob.
    But both abbreviations put together have the sound of EARTH (earth = urth). Only a terrible pun. 🙂

  3. The last microseismicity not mentioned here before Bob come back.



    12 depth

    0.5 mag


  4. OH WOW! I looked at the eruption zone expecting to see nothing and whoopee, LOADS of steaming lava. Last night I was convinced Bob was on his way out and look at him now!

  5. I’ve been quiet ill for two weeks and feeling a lot better this morning and as Bob wasn’t doing anything much, I decided that I must do some serious house work. Well thank you Bob, you have saved me from over-taxing myself. Sitting here, as usual, glued to the webcam. 🙂

  6. We call them nullermænd! That’s about the same, and did you know that it’s the only stuff ín the universe that emerges from nothing?

  7. Please apply to Bob as necessary!

    I have been reading of Schroedinger’s cat
    But none of my cats are at all like that.
    This unusual animal (so it is said)
    Is simultaneously live and dead!
    What I don’t understand is just why he
    Can’t be one or other, unquestionably.
    My future now hangs in between eigenstates.
    In one I’m enlightened, the other I ain’t.
    If you understand, then show me the way
    And rescue my psyche from quantum decay.
    But if this queer thing has perplexed even you,
    Then I will and won’t see you in Schroedinger’s zoo.

  8. The problem here is we must be based on evidences.
    I can not tell if I saw high activity on surface then Bos is alive…
    And if I dont see activity on surface to tell Bob is death.
    The power of Bob can´t be calculated only by the activity on surface because if in a while there is not activity on surface then, do I declare Bob´s death?

    I think a good mode of measurement of real Bob power is seeking the tremor and i abscense measuring how strong are the EQ.´s feeded by the pressure not released.
    Other parameter was as yesterday night we could see an EQ from 26 km of depth…
    We havent seen this from many days ago…
    For me these are some of the real parameters to check.
    In other case whatever thing might be predicted based on nothing.

    • Well I don’t know about volcanoes but I do about people, if they are breathing and have a heartbeat, (no matter how shallow or how slow) then they are alive. Bob is showing off today and is most definitely alive. Our only problems is for how long? The tremor charts are showing worrying signs but that is the only thing I see to worry and how much can we trust the machines? When I was in labour with my second child and after being in severe pain all night the doctor told me I wasn’t in labour and were going to send me home from the hospital!!! The reason? They were relying on a faulty machine to measure contractions. 3 hours later my son was born! Result? I always view electronic machines with suspicion.

    • Of toast I soon had had my fill
      A slice tied onto my cat, Bill.
      When dropped from a height
      He’s in severe fright –
      Bill’s suspended – spinning there still!

      • OT Couldn’t resist this silly ditty.
        An accident happened to my brother Jim
        When somebody threw a tomato at him
        Tomatoes are juicy and don’t break the skin
        But this one was specially packed in a tin!

        • Excellent 🙂 I’ve wrote a poem for Bob and entered it into the Avcan poetry competition, I do not fancy my chances!!

          • Hi Teco Peco, sadly I can’t lay any claim to originality on that little rhyme, it is just one I remembered from when my kids were little. Good luck with the competition though. I have only ever written poetry when I once had depression, many say it was good but it was of course very miserable so to me not good!

          • I try serious stuff, but when I read it back it always makes me cringe, so I try to keep it light-hearted and generally it is mostly nonsense. I can’t lay claim to any I’ve posted today sadly, but I do appreciate and like to share other peoples brilliance- I’ve had to share on several occasions in other circles 🙂

  9. I wonder whether we today the “hahnenkamm” ( i.e. the so ? )will see or whether the cone collapses again? Fortunately, today it is not so a type of waves.

  10. At least we can see an eruption going on – lots of restingolitas today!
    And lots of gases too – they colour the water greenish blue and make the lava stones float. But a lot of gases – what does it mean? I think to understand that gases start emitting when magma (rising to the surface) melts, due to lower pressure. Could a decrease of pressure deeper down in the system also cause gas emission?

    • The gasses release at depth.
      What gas only normally is a sign of is that there is to low level of magmas for it to be pushed up.

  11. newby and Teco, I sure you the sismograph and the spectrogram will be more useful than a tomato and a cat…

    Evidences we had until yesterday:
    With yesterday levels of energy Bob seems with troubles, instead when tremor was in “relaxation” there were sismicity in shallow deeps showing us Bob was alive and the pressure was working in feedback or pressure related.
    Evidences of today: Deeper energy was showed with an EQ at 26 km dpth sowing inputs of new magma…
    whatever other thing is speculate and to say only God knows…
    I think nobody said Bob´s death is just now… We was talking that there were bad signals and the more important issue would be the input of new magma. Excelent the paper I think was Allyson who published the link.
    It happened… And yesterday it was showed us with evidences with the EQ at 26 km depth.
    I might do different speculations based on nothing and I can make speculations based on evidences… It is the diference…

  12. Just to let everyone know, I won’t be online from Wednesday till Sunday. Going to Nebraska because of a family emergency.

  13. Good luck and my best wishes to you, Tyler.

    The person who publshed the link with the paper I mentioned above was Criseh.

  14. It seems my love Carmen López (IGN) is tired of the “resurrections” of Bob and she gave a kick to the seismograph have not updated 2 hours ago.

  15. Go on Bob! Not too much to bother the locals, just enough to put on a show please…..

    Web cams now blocked at work, due to me watching them no doubt! Bugger!

    Will bring me netbook in tomorrow and watch via a tethered mobile…

    • Ditto, so much is blocked on our computers at work…so I bring my laptop and surf in on the wireless network available for patients! Problem solved!

  16. judith published this mornig at 3,30 hours the 1st vídeo of yesterday´s flight…

    This is the 2nd video (from yesterday) and these were the words of one of the crew:

    “The last video of the scientist flight yesterday is perhaps the most spectacular. We can see a submarine degassing phenomenon that is occurring every day at least two periods from a week ago, and leaves a milky-white-blue-green tones clear and could be detected yesterday by scientists from Involcan. I assure you that the smell was unbearable but at the same time exciting.”

    • Interesting. Great shots of de-gassing.

      Do we know what the gasses smelled of? SO2 , H2S or both?

      I did not see many, if any, dead fish. So wonder what attracts the sea gulls – churning water confusing them with shoals of fish?

      • Remember that we had problems seeing the restingofritas sometimes. Fish are normaly rather small and hard to see. Or maybe I need new glasses again 🙂

  17. Happy to see You all here enjoying the day…..
    How far is Bob from the surface?
    and re Schroedinger’s cat
    i can tell if it’s dead or not:
    smell the box….
    ps… remember…. the farther You go out on the limb; the more sway You encounter.

    • I heard our Bob-cat was below 100m from the surface now, and I am not sure if I read somewhere (possibly earthquake report?) that he was only around 40m below sea level, al though I could be well wrong on that.

      He don’t smell dead to me, just a bit fishy but that could be them political scientists pressing the buttons 🙂

  18. Too many hours working – having Bob withdrawals. Just a quick catch up while at lunch. Tyler, have a safe trip and hope all goes well for your family.

  19. Curiosity killed the cat.

    I keep six honest serving-men,

    They taught me all I knew;

    Their names are What and Why and When

    And How and Where and Who.

    (Rudyard Kipling)

    • I will go and check in a while… Having post nap coffee still…
      If I remember it, but if it is reported somwhere here there is probably one.

      Writing on a post it note… Check Auroras and report…

      *going to check*

        • Nah, to much cold-drop clouds.

          A cold-drop cloud forms when the temperature is dropping ten degrees or more in short order… Depressing feature. It starts with snow coming from a clear blue sky as any little bit of moisture drains out of the atmosphere…
          Hell, I think I will go to Spain now instead before I get depressed or something…

          Or move into a dessert (Heavenly bliss)

          • Sadly not possible.
            I am first going to Brusselsprouts, the capital of the Anarchic States of Belgium, then back to our capital for a few days, then boldly onwards to reconquer Barcelona again.

          • Never mind. Should be decent chocolate in Brussels and good coffee in Barcelona. No idea what the coffee in Brussels is like.

        • Well, I supose there will be another aurora in 3 to 5 days that I will equally happy miss because I am in Brusselsprouts 😉

  20. Heaven on earth…
    Warm, no horking snow… No wet cold rain either… No nothing to disturb my frozen bones.
    I really love my country, but by God I hate the climate… We should move the entire country to Sahara.

    • Amen! and Alaska Too!. Winter is just too cold and too dark for too long.
      May God give us Good Cheer!

      • Hey! Good to see you around!
        Just passed by to say I’ll take a dive at the beach.
        Don’t be angry. I have been working so hard since 6 in the morning and I heard the waters are very cold.
        But this is a much needed dive.
        Have you seen Princess Frito is back?
        Best, Rio

    • Something for you warm enviers to think about.

      You can always put on a layer of clothing.

      I have spent pretty much my entire life in the Deep South. In summer, you can only take off so many clothes before you get arrested.

      Here is a line from a song that pretty well describes it.

      “That hot old summer sun make you beg for your next breath
      So you best be on the creek bank laid in the shade
      Chewin on a hickory twig, pass that bottle, I’ll have me a swig
      I ain’t got a lot, but I think I got it made, in the shade

      source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/h/hankwilliamsjrlyrics/countrystateofmindlyrics.html

  21. Good evening Carl & all..OK it might seem that the grass is greener on the other side, (well not exactly in this case), but isn´t the Sahara a bit exteme..just image all those sand storms..blowing sand into every orrifice…yuk …all hot and sweaty with sand sticking to you …no thanks!

  22. there are some more fabulous photos from Joke Volka on the ER Webiste..she is doing a fantastic job – just goes to show that one person can make a huge difference..

  23. Beautiful Bob

    There is a boy down Restinga Bay
    Named Bob, born in 2011.
    Nothing he does makes any sense,
    And he can sometimes do your head in.

    Bob climbs El Hierro from top to bottom,
    And he runs whilst standing still.
    He’ll drink jellyfish and eat the sea
    And roll upwards down the hill.

    Bob whispers when he is shouting,
    He stretches with his tongue.
    He doesn’t talk, yet he’s oh so clever,
    Even when he’s right, he’s wrong!

    Bob shouts Hello when it is time to go,
    And he says Good Night in the morning.
    He eats far too many sulphuric fish
    And he trumps when he is yawning.

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