Ancient Earth may have looked like Jupiter`s volcanic moon Io

Last Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 15:53

Islamabad: Scientists suggest that Jupiter`s strange and hyper- volcanic moon Io is the best comparison to ancient Earth.

Four billion years ago Earth was intensely volcanic, having formed from the collision of several small "planetesimals" about 500 million years previously.

Those collisions, combined with the separation of our magnetic core left the Earth extremely hot, with up to 10 times more internal heat than today.

But instead of a system of plate tectonics, scientists said that it is more likely Earth worked like Io - with huge volcanic pipes flowing super hot material up to the surface.

Io is currently the most active volcanic object in the solar system.

The huge gravitational pull of its host planet, Jupiter, means that the material in its core is constantly pouring onto the surface, covering the whole moon in a centimetre of lava every year.

According to a website, the team from Hampton University in Virginia said that Earth probably looked very similar to Io in its first billion years.

At that point the surface solidified enough to switch to a plate tectonics mechanism, leading to a less intensely volcanic world.

The study could have implications for our search for life on other planets.

The research is published in the journal Nature.


First Published: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 12:00

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