Was Ancient Earth Like Jupiter’s Super-Volcanic Moon Io?

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kenobi-wan-obi:

Was Ancient Earth Like Jupiter’s Super-Volcanic Moon Io?

Anybody wondering what Earth was like 4 billion years ago should cast an eye toward Jupiter’s hypervolcanic moon Io, a new study suggests.

Io is the most volcanically active object in the solar system, dissipating its massive stores of internal heat via intense eruptions that cover the entire moon with about 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) of lava every year. Earth probably went through a similar phase in its youth, back before the planet cooled enough for plate tectonics to start up, researchers report today (Sept. 25) in the journal Nature.

Earth formed from the fusion of many small, rocky “planetesimals” about 4.5 billion years ago. These collisions generated lots of heat, as did the subsequent separation of Earth’s metallic core and the decay of radioactive elements. As a result, the ancient Earth harbored far more internal heat than it does today — perhaps five to 10 times more, scientists think.

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