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Mars NASA Space

Ancient Supervolcanoes Revealed On Mars 18

Posted by Soulskill
from the shaking-the-solar-system dept.
ananyo writes "A series of Martian craters assumed to have been formed by meteorites may actually be extinct volcanoes so massive that, when they were active billions of years ago, they could have buried Mars in ash. The craters pepper the surface of Arabia Terra, a geologically ancient region of northern Mars. They appear as several huge circular pits that resemble Earth's calderas, in which magma beneath a volcano drains after a volcanic eruption, causing the ground above the magma chamber to collapse. Using data from several satellites orbiting Mars, researchers mapped Eden patera in detail. In a report in Nature today (abstract), they describe three separate calderas within the depression, along with possible signs of a lake of solidified lava and a volcanic vent where lava could have oozed out."
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Ancient Supervolcanoes Revealed On Mars

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  • Are they actually supervolcanoes?

    Or ar they just cosplaying?

  • the structure could have expanded over time, making it appear there was more geological activity that there was?
  • Not suprising (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:33PM (#45020637)
    Mars must have been very geologically active at one point. Olympus Mons [wikipedia.org] was once thought to be the tallest mountain in the solar system until the discovery of a taller mountain in 1997 on Vesta. Still, it's the tallest known volcano at 26 Km.
    • by T_Tauri (883646)
      Part of the reason Olympus Mons is thought to be so big is the lack of plate tectonics on Mars. On Earth the plates are moving about so a hot spot slowly moves under the crust creating features like the Hawaiian line of volcanoes. On Mars the same hot spot is believed to have sat under Olympus Mons for billions of years - so even if it was relatively slow it had enough time to reach its great height.
  • There was that article a little bit ago about life possibly arising first on Mars and then coming to Earth via Space Rock. If those are Supervolcanoes, and one erupted around the same time that life began here, you'd have a viable vector for life moving between planets. Still some very big "If"s in there, though.
    • Supervolcanos don't erupt at 5 km/s. Only impacts eject material at escape velocities.
  • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @10:45AM (#45025007)

    The thread about the government shutdown got over 1,000 replies, but this thread, about actual science only got 14. Sure, it might not affect our day-to-day lives as much, but finding supervolcanoes on Mars is really interesting. What if there was life, but it was wiped out by a supervolcano. Maybe with Mars' thinner atmosphere the disturbance caused by the supervolcano changed the makeup of the atmosphere enough to completely wipe out life?

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