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Fire and Ice: Volcanoes of the Solar System

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0116
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Natalie Starkey

The volcano is among the most familiar and perhaps most terrifying of all geological phenomena. Earth isn't the only planet to harbor them: Our own moon, now a dormant piece of rock, had lava flowing across its surface billions of years ago. In fact, volcanic activity has occurred in almost every corner of the solar system, in the most unexpected of locations.

We tend to think of Earth’s volcanoes as erupting hot molten lava and emitting huge billowing clouds of incandescent ash. However, it isn't necessarily the same across the rest of the solar system. Some volcanoes aren't even particularly hot. Those on Pluto erupt an icy slush of water, methane, nitrogen, or ammonia.

Whether they are formed of fire or ice, volcanoes help scientists trying to picture the inner workings of a planet or moon. They dredge up materials from otherwise-inaccessible depths and helpfully deliver them to the surface. The way in which they erupt and the products they generate can even help scientists ponder bigger questions on the possibility of life elsewhere in the solar system.

Join geologist and cosmochemist, Natalie Starkey, author of Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System, for a fascinating exploration of the tallest, coldest, hottest, and most unusual volcanoes and to learn how these cosmic features are created.

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