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Earth Space Science

Venus' Crust Heals Too Fast For Plate Tectonics 135

An anonymous reader writes in with an interesting look at how important plate tectonics may be to life and why the crust on Venus works differently than it does on Earth. "Without plate tectonics, carbon would build up in the atmosphere. Venus, which does not have tectonics, shows the results: an atmosphere that is 96 percent carbon dioxide. It's toxic. Yet Venus is about the same size and composition as our planet, so why doesn't it have plate tectonics? Some researchers made a model to explore how Earth initiated plate movements, and these same researchers made one model of its neighbor for comparison. A 1.5-billion-year-old Earth and a similarly aged Venus were modeled as a hot, mushy material made of tiny particles of rock. The model uses physics at the one-millimeter rock grain scale to explain how the whole planet behaves. According to David Bercovici, a geophysicist at Yale who was an author on the paper, the model also shows how plate tectonics emerged on Earth but not on her twin."
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Venus' Crust Heals Too Fast For Plate Tectonics

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @11:47AM (#46806171)

    Is it very surprising that a completely different orbit around the sun and different composition result in different crust phenomena?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @11:52AM (#46806223)

    The geology department is trying to justify themselves again - "Some scientists think that plate tectonics are essential for life". What a load of crap!

    What a dumb article, the dirt monkeys make this supposition: "Venus doesn't have life because there are no tectonics (we think)". Maybe it doesn't have life because it's being scorched by a nuclear furnace????

  • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Monday April 21, 2014 @12:02PM (#46806343)

    Amanita phalloides (Deathcap mushrooms) are NOT toxic.

    Hundreds of thousands of rabbits would challenge the notion that it is toxic.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Monday April 21, 2014 @12:08PM (#46806403)

    Maybe it doesn't have life because it's being scorched by a nuclear furnace????

    Whew! Good thing Earth isn't being heated by a giant thermo-nuclear oven too!

    Venus gets about twice the solar irradiation we do here. If we got 2.5kw or so per square meter here, this planet would be uninhabitable too.

    And since the Great Oxygen Event had a biological cause, it's probable we'd have a CO2 atmosphere too, with or without plate tectonics, if we had Venus levels of solar irradiation.

  • by darthlurker ( 663459 ) on Monday April 21, 2014 @12:14PM (#46806445)

    There's a big difference between Earth and Venus.

    Later doesn't have an over-sized moon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @12:18PM (#46806481)

    At sufficiently low doses, nothing is toxic. At sufficiently high doses, everything is toxic.

    Did you know you can (and people do every year) die from water toxicity?

  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Monday April 21, 2014 @12:59PM (#46806847)
    I mean here, not from the article's author.

    If instead of yelling about how Mr. Bercovici's theory doesn't explain life, the Universe and everything we accept that he has provided a reasonable theory explaining one of the factors which led to the current difference between Earth and Venus, the conversation here might be more productive.

    Yes, Venus gets considerably more energy from the Sun than Earth does. Yes, this alone could reasonably be expected to make it very different from Earth. Is that the only thing which caused Venus to be different from the Earth? If not, it might be interesting to know what other factors resulted in the differences we see - hence, the article exploring how plate tectonics may have contributed to the differences we see.

    Oh, one last observation - Mr Bercovici has postulated a theory. I'm sure he started with a hypothesis for which he then sought supporting evidence, which he has provided. So far, sounds like good science to me.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley