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Abstract

Textbooks in volcanology commonly emphasize the correlations observed between the volcanic and tectonic systems on Earth, implying direct cause-effect relationships between these two systems. When attention is focused on volcanic activity on other planets, moons and even asteroids, however, the causality implied by the correlations established on Earth becomes less evident. Questioning the cause-effect relationship between Tectonic and Volcanic systems on Earth constitutes the motivation to explore a different approach than that used in the past 30 years. In this paper I undertake this task based on a conceptual definition of a volcanic system that can be used regardless of tectonic scenario. A mechanical analogy of the planetary system serves as guide to insert fundamental physical principles in the conceptual framework, resulting in a hydrostatic model of volcanism (HMV). The HMV is used to constrain the thickness of magma source regions that is most likely to sustain volcanic activity as a function of depth, and other aspects concerning the temporal evolution of a volcanic system. Those quantitative estimates are found to be in agreement with real observations made on Earth, leading to the conclusion that, by decoupling the tectonic and volcanic systems, it is possible to provide a better explanation of the origins of volcanism not only on Earth but on other planets of our solar system as well.

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