New research reveals Mars’s ancient volcanic past

Younger Mars had a interval of lively volcanism and crust recycling in line with new analysis based mostly on knowledge from satellites orbiting the planet.

Distant sensing discovered 63 websites displaying historical volcanic exercise courting to three.5–4 billion years in the past. These correspond to 4 various kinds of volcano – volcanic domes, stratovolcanoes, pyroclastic shields and caldera complexes.

The outcomes are printed in Nature Astronomy.

Not like Earth, Mars immediately is geologically inactive. However, additionally not like Earth, the truth that greater than half of its floor is 3.5 billion years outdated permits astronomers to look again in time to a interval when the Purple Planet was far more alive.

Having such an historical floor means that, for 3.5 billion years, Mars hasn’t had in depth “crust recycling” – a tectonic course of which sees the higher layer of the planet fall into mantle beneath.

“The comparatively well-preserved historical crust of Mars offers a pure window into early planetary evolution not out there on Earth on account of sustained tectonic recycling and erosion on this planet,” the authors of the brand new paper write.

Astronomers have identified for some time that Mars wasn’t at all times so geologically inactive. However understanding the primary billion years of the planet’s tectonic and volcanic previous has remained elusive.


This newest research used distant sensing knowledge from numerous satellites together with the Mars World Surveyor, Mars Odyssey and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Information from these orbiters was targeted on the planet’s Eridania area within the southern hemisphere.

Eridania has the strongest remnants of Mars’s historical magnetic fields and signatures of volcanism in its crust.

Not solely did the evaluation of the info reveal historical volcanoes, it confirmed crustal recycling on early Mars. This course of would have been pushed by vertical tectonics – a type of precursor to the total plate tectonics which, on Earth, drives continental drift and different geological processes.

It means that volcanism may have been extra widespread on early Mars.

The researchers consider their findings may support within the seek for historical life on the Purple Planet. It’s believed that underwater hydrothermal vents may have sparked the primary organisms on Earth. A volcanically lively historical Mars may have seen comparable processes result in the emergence of life.

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