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Ancient Supervolcanoes Revealed On Mars

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the shaking-the-solar-system dept.

Mars 18

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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Hey! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45019839)

Mars is very sensitive about its teenage acne problems! Way to be assholes, Nature.

Re:Hey! (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#45022047)

You are too stupid to live.

Are they actually supervolcanoes? (0)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#45019855)

Are they actually supervolcanoes?

Or ar they just cosplaying?

Is it possible . . . (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#45019865)

the structure could have expanded over time, making it appear there was more geological activity that there was?

Re:Is it possible . . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45020253)

Are you suggesting Mars is pregnant?

That might explain the stretch marks...

Urge to kill....rising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45020623)

You guys are not funny.

Not suprising (4, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Not suprising (2)

T_Tauri (883646) | about a year ago | (#45023225)

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.

Mars quakes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021195)

Is there any evidence from the probes sent that indicate that Mars is still geologically still active albeit in a far more subdued form compared to Earth? Also are the chances of it being hit by asteroids might be greater because of it's proximity to the asteroid belt? Muchos preguntas? Hehehe.

Billions? (0)

The_Star_Child (2660919) | about a year ago | (#45021679)

Everyone knows Mars is only 6,000 years old like the Earth.

Transplanted Martian Life (2)

Vonotar82 (859920) | about a year ago | (#45022081)

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.

Re:Transplanted Martian Life (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#45022273)

Supervolcanos don't erupt at 5 km/s. Only impacts eject material at escape velocities.

Re:Transplanted Martian Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45023123)

What about super-mega-ultra volcanoes? Could they get up to the necessary velocities? What if the volcano was really really huge, even bigger than Olympus Mons, so that its peak was already half way to space?

If some material did get thrown out of Mars' orbit, it would take millions of years to get to Earth via the Interplanetary Transport Network. That wouldn't necessarily invalidate the panspermia hypothesis though.

Re:Transplanted Martian Life (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#45024833)

Getting halfway to space doesn't really help -- gravity is nearly as strong in space as on the surface. You need velocity not height.

Re:Transplanted Martian Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45028331)

Getting halfway to space doesn't really help -- gravity is nearly as strong in space as on the surface. You need velocity not height.

Escape velocity decreases with an increase in distance from the center of the gravitational field. This is basic high-school level Physics.
I will, however, point out that halfway to "space" is not halfway out of the gravity well, as "space" is usually defined as beginning at the upper bounds of an atmosphere. So assuming a colloquial definition of where "space" begins, yes you're correct that the difference in gravity is negligible.

Re: Transplanted Martian Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45027625)

Sounds like a planetary pimple or boil? Now the serious question is did aliens squeeze Mars to get the pus out? Just asking?

Makes me sad (2)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about a year ago | (#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?

Re:Makes me sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45027937)

The thread about the government shutdown got over 1,000 replies, but this thread, about actual science only got 14.

The government shutting down was controversial, calderas on Mars aren't. But I don't know why you guys expect to find evidence of life there, it seems to me that so many things just have to be just right for it to begin in the first place life is probably very extremely rare.

That said, I wish they had rovers on Titan. It has quite a bit of methane in its atmosphere, and I would think that might be a good place to look for past life (probably no present life, since there's no CO2 or oxygen).

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