Venus: Earth's twin would have “died” by suffocation!

Venus and Earth are considered twin planets. Yet one harbors life while the other has turned into a burning hell. Researchers believe that the current state of Venus is linked to a combination of major volcanic events. It is a fact, the major volcanic eruptions that mark the history of the Earth are, more than the falls of asteroids, responsible for the great mass extinctions. The intensive volcanism at the origin of the great magmatic provinces such as the Deccan traps could in particular have modified the conditions of habitability of the planet to a critical point. This is at least the conclusion of a new study which looked at the various extreme volcanic events and in particular those that may have occurred simultaneously. Their results show that when combined, this type of event can lead to a runaway greenhouse effect and a catastrophic rise in temperature. The Earth would thus have narrowly avoided turning into a burning hell. Venus, Earth’s twin planet, would not have been so lucky. Major and catastrophic eruptions punctuate the history of the Earth The large magmatic provinces found on Earth bear witness to these episodes of intense volcanism. These catastrophic events that lead to the formation of thick basaltic plateaus span millions of years in time. They are now suspected of being temporarily responsible for significant changes in the climate and the environment as a whole. The emission of enormous quantities of greenhouse gases would thus have caused increases in temperature and modified the chemical composition of the oceans. Major environmental changes that would have largely contributed to the mass extinctions that terrestrial life has experienced. A major climatic impact, especially in the event of simultaneous eruptionsHowever, because of the continuous recycling of the Earth’s surface by tectonic processes, our knowledge of these large volcanic events remains incomplete. It thus appears that if a single large magmatic province is capable of significantly altering the climate, its impact is not sufficient to cause it to tip over irreversibly. The proof is that the Earth has always managed to recover a stable climate system favorable to life. However, according to the authors of the study to be published in The Planetary Science Journal, it is not impossible that the Earth experienced periods during which several major volcanic events would have occurred simultaneously, or at least closer. Although the consequences of such a combination are still poorly known, it is possible that, cumulatively, the effects on the climate could have been particularly devastating. Venus: the vicious circle of extreme global warmingFor scientists, the simultaneous eruption of several large magmatic provinces would notably have the capacity to destroy a planet, by generating an irreversible vicious circle. This hypothesis could explain the current state of Venus. Before being the hell that we know, Venus would indeed have presented conditions potentially favorable to the development of life, with in particular the presence of liquid water on its surface. The production of enormous quantities of greenhouse gases by several simultaneous major eruptions, however, would have dramatically increased the temperature of the planet, leading to the evaporation of its oceans. This supply of water vapor in the atmosphere would have further intensified the greenhouse effect, leading the planet into an infernal cycle of warming, until the total disappearance of liquid water. A slow death by suffocation. According to the authors of the study, the Earth only narrowly escaped this disastrous fate. The question now is how many magma provinces are needed to jam the climate system and turn a rocky planet into hell. In this perspective, the study of Venus and its volcanism should provide valuable information. Right now, receive the Mag Futura for free by subscribing to our subscriptions! Did you know that you can access Futura without ads via our subscriptions? At the moment, you can discover this advantage with our special offer: subscribe to the “I participate in the life of Futura” subscription (for a minimum period of 3 months) and receive the Mag Futura at home(worth of 19 €)! *Mag Futura is sent after the third month of registration. Interested in what you just read?