Signs of Recent Volcanic Eruption on Mars Hint at Habitats for Life - The New York Times
Nov 20, 2020 1 min, 9 secs
Not thought to be volcanically active, Mars may have experienced an eruption just 53,000 years ago.

But our neighboring world has long since dried up and its atmosphere has been blown away, while most activity beneath its surface has long ceased.

But a new paper suggests an eruption occurred as recently as 53,000 years ago in a region called Cerberus Fossae, which would be the youngest known volcanic eruption on Mars.

“If this deposit is of volcanic origin then the Cerberus Fossae region may not be extinct and Mars may still be volcanically active today,” scientists at the University of Arizona and Smithsonian Institution, write in their paper — which was posted online ahead of peer review and has been submitted to the journal Icarus.

Appearing like a crack in the surface, the feature looks like a recent fissure eruption, where subsurface volcanic activity has caused superheated volcanic ash and dust to burst through the surface.

This would by far be the youngest known volcanic eruption on Mars.

Such volcanic activity could melt subsurface ice, providing a potential habitable environment for living things.

“It is certainly plausible that the tectonic activity is related to volcanic activity,” said Suzanne Smrekar from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who is the deputy principal investigator on the InSight mission.

“It definitely leaves open the possibility that, deep in the surface, it may be active today,” he said


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