A recent study revealed surprising new information about the Martian volcanoes. This Red Planet formations are known to rise very high. And apparently, they may also erupt for some billions of years.
Scientists have long since known that Martian volcanoes are different from our own. Volcanism is believed to have played an important role in the planet’s geologic evolution. Which led to the appearance of some quite impressive volcanoes.
Mars is known for hosting some of the most magnificent volcanoes in the solar system. The largest yet such formation can be found on Mars. It was named the Olympus Mons. This is a 17 miles tall volcano, with a footprint as big as Arizona.
Martian volcanoes are able to grow to such significant sizes thanks to the planet’s elements. Mars lacks tectonic plates. As these shuffle the surface, they somewhat control the size of the Earth volcanoes.
And such massive volcanoes can also keep on erupting for many millions of years. At least according to a new study. This was carried out by Purdue University researchers. The study was led by Marc Caffee. He is a Purdue University Professor of Physics and Astronomy.
Study results were released last week. They were published in the Science Advances journal. Available online since February 01, the paper was titled as follows. “Two billion years of magmatism recorded from a single Mars meteorite ejection site”.
The researchers carried out the study based on a meteorite. Their 6.9-ounce sample was titled NWA. Or more exactly, the Northwest Africa 7635. And according to the research, it may have had a quite interesting history.
Caffee stated as follows. “Even though we’ve never had astronauts walk on Mars, we still have pieces of the Martian surface to study, thanks to these meteorites”.
More than 100 such samples have been traced back to Mars. They were found in collections spread throughout Earth. Most of the meteorites were found in North Africa and Antarctica.
Caffee and his team analyzed about 30 such samples. They used the Purdue Rare Isotope Measurement (Prime) Laboratory in studying them. And according to them, the meteorites can be categorized according to their age.
NWA 7635 is one amongst a group of 11 others. These fragments are believed to have been exposed to 1.1 million years worth of cosmic rays. But NWA is even more special. The fragment was estimated to be about 2.4 billion years old. The others are about 500 million years old.
According to Caffee, this points out the following. “For 2 billion years there’s been a sort of a steady plume of magma in one location on the surface of Mars”. He then continued by pointing out another fact.
“We don’t have anything like that on Earth, where something is stable for 2 billion years at a specific location.”
And this could be a very relevant fact in the study of Martian volcanoes. For the moment, the meteorite has yet to reveal all its mysteries. For the moment, the scientists are unsure as to its birthplace. This could potentially be Olympus Mons. Or it could come from another location.
The NWA 7635 tests do point out the following. Martian volcanoes could potentially have plumed for many million to billions of years.
According to Caffee, these meteorite samples are very significant. “These meteorites are allowing us to conduct geologic science on the surface of Mars, and we haven’t even been there”. If proven correct, the study would also point out another fact.
Mars’s history is estimated to go back some 4.5 billion years. And for over 2 billion years of it, a volcano could have been erupting continuously.
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