Mars crater could be ancient supervolcano

Thursday, 3 October 2013 - 10:44am IST | Agency: ANI

A research project has identified a crater on the Red Planet what could be an ancient supervolcano.

The research project done by Joseph R. Michalski, Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, and co-author Jacob E. Bleacher of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center describe a new type of volcanic construction on Mars that until now has gone unrecognized.

The volcano in question, a vast circular basin on the face of the Red Planet, previously had been classified as an impact crater.

Their assessment is based on images and topographic data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey, Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, as well as the European Space Agency’s Mars Express Orbiter

Michalski and Bleacher lay out their case that the basin, recently named Eden Patera, is a volcanic caldera, as it is a depression, it can look like a crater formed by an impact, rather than a volcano.

Michalski said that on Mars, young volcanoes have a very distinctive appearance that allows us to identify them.

The researchers also suggest a large body of magma loaded with dissolved gas (similar to the carbonation in soda) rose through thin crust to the surface quickly.

Like a bottle of soda that has been shaken, this supervolcano would have blown its contents far and wide if the top came off suddenly.

After the material is expelled from the eruption, the depression that is left can collapse even further, causing the ground around it to sink.

The study has been published in the journal Nature. 


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