DLR: Ahuna Mons on Ceres: A New and Unusual Type of Volcanic Activity

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DLR: Ahuna Mons on Ceres: A New and Unusual Type of Volcanic Activity

Post by bystander » Tue Jun 11, 2019 5:38 pm

Ahuna Mons on Ceres: A New and Unusual Type of Volcanic Activity
German Aerospace Center (DLR) | 2019 Jun 11
When scientists first saw this structure on the images taken by their camera on the Dawn space probe, they could hardly believe their eyes: from the crater-strewn surface of the dwarf planet Ceres rises an even, smooth and steep-sided mountain, towering over 4,000 metres high. It is the highest mountain on the thousand kilometre-diameter, almost spherical dwarf planet, and one of the most remarkable structures in the entire Solar System. A study involving scientists from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) has now solved the mystery of how Ahuna Mons, as the mountain is called, was formed, using gravity measurements and investigations of the geometrical form of Ceres. A bubble made of a mixture of salt water, mud and rock rose from within the dwarf planet. The bubble pushed the ice-rich crust upwards, and at a structural weak point the muddy substance, comprising salts and hydrogenated silicates, was pushed to the surface, solidified in the cold of space, in the absence of any atmosphere, and piled up to form a mountain. Ahuna Mons is an enormous mud volcano.

"In this region, the interior of Ceres is not solid and rigid, but moving and at least partially fluid," explains Wladimir Neumann ... "This ‘bubble’ that formed in the mantle of Ceres beneath Ahuna Mons is a mixture of saline water and rock components." ... Ceres is a dwarf planet on the outer edge of the asteroid belt. The largest body in this zone between Mars and Jupiter, populated by minor planets, consists primarily of siliceous rocks, but also, to a considerable extent, of ice and presumably layers of water. The scientists are working on the assumption that up to a quarter of the mass of Ceres is ice or water – an even higher proportion than Earth's reserves of freshwater and ice. ...

The interior of Ceres is not homogeneous, but rather, to use geologists' terminology, partially 'differentiated', which means that after the formation of the celestial body, its components have become segregated and separated, at least to a certain degree. Components with a higher proportion of heavy elements, such as magnesium or iron, sank into the centre of the body, while lighter components like rocks with a high aluminium silicate or water content rose. Bubbles and domes are being created due to the heat that is still being generated today, four-and-a-half billion years after the formation of Ceres, by the decay of radioactive elements. The presence of liquids has influenced the inner formation differently to the usual rocky planets. As a result of their lower specific weight compared to the surrounding materials, these bubbles rise and press against the crust from below. The kilometre-high domes deform the crust, and once they break through it, fluid material penetrates the surface. ...

Slurry Extrusion on Ceres from a Convective Mud-bearing Mantle ~ Ottaviano Ruesch et al
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