Mars has long been considered a geologically inert planet, silent and still since the massive volcanic eruptions that fashioned much of its surface ended more than three billion years ago.
However, new findings derived from images obtained by the Mars Orbiter Camera aboard the Mars Global Surveyor Mission have raised the intriguing possibility that lava may one day soon flow fresh across the Red Planet.
A team led by geology and geophysics graduate researcher David Susko, from the Louisiana State University, focused on a Martian volcano dubbed Elysium, the second highest on the planet and more than twice as high as Everest. The findings are published in Nature Scientific Reports.
Combining the satellite imagery with data acquired by the Mars Rover, Susko’s team determined that parts of Elysium’s lava deposits were only three to four million years old, three orders of magnitude younger than the lava laid down by Mar’s other volcanoes.
(Image – A solidified lava flow over the side of a crater rim of Elysium, the second highest volcano on Mars. Credit: NASA)
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