Arsia Mons is one of the Tharsis Montes chain of three shield volcanoes on Mars. It measures miles in high. The Martian volcano used to deliver one burst of lava every 1 to 3 million years. However, this can’t happen anymore as it ceased its activity around 50 million years ago. This period coincides with the Earth’s own major event known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction.
Scientists Used NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to Study the Martian Volcano
Together with Ascraeus Mons and Pavonis Mons, Arsia Mons forms an aligned chain called Tharsis Montes. It is the second most voluminous Martian volcano right after the Olympus Mons. This shield volcano may be billions of years old. Scientists are still trying to reconstruct the lifecycle of such a natural formation.
The author of the new paper, Dr. Jacob Richardson, works at the Goddard Space Flight Center which is part of NASA. He stated that according to his research, the peak moment of the activity of Arsia Mons must have happened around 150 million years ago. This time coincides with the Jurassic period on Earth. However, its dying days must have started around 50 million years ago which is the same time with the extinction of dinosaurs. From a geological perspective, this period is extremely recent.
The caldera of Arsia Mons is around 68 miles across. This can mean that it can hold enough volume to host the entire Lake Huron. Dr. Richardson and his team had to consult the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter from NASA to delve into the mysteries hold by the Martian volcano. This way, they obtained imaging of the caldera of high-resolution.
The New Study Is a Step Closer to Discovering the Martian History
Scientists proceeded to measure the lava remains around each of the 29 volcanic vents. These are pockets on the surface that allow the volcanic material to escape. To measure the ages of the lava activities, they have also carried out a crater counting technique where they found out the number of craters that have more than 330 feet in diameter.
The final step was to introduce all data into a computer model. The results helped them find out the Earth equivalent of the lineup for all 29 vents. Giving the fact that their impact craters measured no more than 3,280 feet in diameter, scientists concluded that these vents are the newest ones on Mars. This discovery brings the scientific world closer to understanding the entire history of the Red Planet.
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