Like Earth, Mercury is also Tectonically Active Planet

Like Earth, Mercury is also Tectonically Active Planet

A study focused on Mercury’s cliffs has revealed that earthquakes, also called Mercuryquakes, may still shake the smallest planet of the solar system, which means earth isn’t the only planetary body with active quake activities.

Mercury was a mysterious planet for astronomers until MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) space probe of NASA reached there and revealed its hidden secrets. Before NASA’s MESSENGER, Mariner 10 probe, also of the US space agency, studied the planet over four decades ago.

Data collected by Mariner 10 showed that Mercury’s surface has cliffs and fault scarps, while MESSENGER provided details on these features. Some of them could be 3 kilometers high and 1,000 kilometers long. Before de-orbiting, the probe managed to click and send close view of the Mercury’s surface. Analyzing those pictures, the MESSENGER team has found that the planet has some small fault scraps whose length is about 10 kilometers and height is around 12 feet. They also found that these scraps are around 50 million years old.

If the small fault scarps are so young, then it could be said that Mercury is a tectonically active planet, like our earth. Results of the new study suggested that Mercury is cooling and shrinking, which means it still rumbles with quakes, said Thomas Watters, lead author of the study from the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Earth and Planetary Studies.

Mercury’s scraps could be compared with the moon’s scarps. According to astronomers, moon experiences moonquakes whose magnitude on the Richter scale could be around 5. “We might expect shallow seismic events of a comparable level on Mercury. We might even see events significantly greater than magnitude 5 with the older, larger scarps”, said Watters in a statement.


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