Volcanic activity happening on Mars? Scientists find proof of volcanoes on the red planet

04 February 2017, 04:41 PM
Scientists uncover evidence of 2 billion years of volcanic activity on Mars (Representational pic)
Scientists uncover evidence of 2 billion years of volcanic activity on Mars (Representational pic)

Volcanic activity on Mars for at least two billion years has been uncovered by the scientists. The researchers have found the evidence for the same after they analysed a meteorite from Mars. It has been confirmed through the finding that some of the longest-lived volcanoes in the solar system may be found on Mars.

The lava flowing over long distances formed shield volcanoes and lava plains, similar to the formation of the Hawaiian Islands.

Olympus Mons, which is the largest Martian volcano, is nearly 27.3 kilometers high, almost triple the height of Mauna Kea (10 kilometres), the tallest volcano of Earth.

The new findings provide new clues about the evolution of the planet and offer insight into the history of volcanic activity on Mars, said Tom Lapen, a professor at the University of Houston in the US.

The meteorites that are found on Earth provide sufficient information about the composition of rocks from volcanoes on the red planet.

Different substances are analysed to get information about the age of the meteorite, its magma source, length of time in space and how long the meteorite was on the surface of the Earth.

A volcano or lava plain was formed when something slammed into the surface of Mars one million years ago. Rocks were ejected into space because of this impact. The fragments of these rocks crossed the orbit of the Earth and fell as meteorites.

The meteorite, known as Northwest Africa 7635, was discovered in 2012. It was found to be a type of volcanic rock called a shergottite. Eleven of these Martian meteorites, with similar chemical composition and ejection time, have been found.

“We see that they came from a similar volcanic source.  Given that they also have the same ejection time, we can conclude that these come from the same location on Mars,” said Lapen.

Together, these meteorites provide information about a single location on Mars. Previously analysed meteorites range in age from 327 million to 600 million years old.

In contrast, the meteorite analysed by researchers was formed 2.4 billion years ago and suggests that it was ejected from one of the longest-lived volcanic centres in the solar system.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

(With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Friday, February 03, 2017 11:20 AM
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