Mercury once boasted an ocean of boiling hot magma says researchers

Feb 22, 2013

Scientists and researchers all around the world are constantly looking at our universe and trying to learn new details about our solar system and what's going on beyond our solar system in the universe. Recently researchers from MIT published the results of an experiment that demonstrates that Mercury may have had an ocean of magma on its surface. The experiment demonstrated that Mercury could have had its lava ocean approximately 4,000,000,000 years ago.

During the study, the scientists looked at data gathered by the NASA Messenger probe concerning the composition of Mercury's surface. During the study, the scientists were interested to find that the surface of Mercury is composed of two massively different rock compositions. The scientists began an investigation to determine what geological process could've made the surface be comprised of two such fundamentally different types of rock.

The researchers then use the data from Messenger to reconstruct two different types of rock found on Mercury and then subjected those rocks to different temperatures and pressures allowing them to simulate processes the could've occurred on the surface of Mercury. The scientists say that after their experiments they determined that the only process that could have occurred on the surface of Mercury that would've caused such radically different types of rock would have been if the planet once had an ocean of magma on its surface.

Timothy Grove, a geologist from MIT, said that the process would've occurred billions of years ago because Mercury's crust is "probably more than 4 billion years old." Scientists estimate that the magma ocean on the surface of Mercury would've existed during the first 10 million years after Mercury's formation. While using a geological experiment to explain a finding on the surface of the planet is not unheard of, it is rather uncommon in the astronomy world.

[via Forbes]

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