Explosive Volcanoes Played Major Role In Martian Rock Formation

Posted: Jun 21 2018, 5:26am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Explosive Volcanoes Played Major Role In Martian Rock Formation
Image Credit: European Space Agency

Volcanic Eruptions Caused Mysterious Rock Formations on Mars Surface.

First observed in 1960’s by Nasa’s Mariner spacecraft, there is a mysterious deposit of massive and soft rocks along the equator of the Mars. This place is referred to as the Medusae Fossae Formation and the rocks have a strange wave-like formation; they seem to be flat on the top with very steep sidelines.

Scientists who have been studying Martian surface have finally found an answer to the origin of these massive wave formations of rock deposits. According to their research, these formations are a result of a massive volcanic eruption on the Martian planet that took place nearly 3 billion years ago.

According to the research team, these are the greatest volcanic deposits in the whole solar system. They are more than 100 times larger than the size of the largest volcanic deposit on our planet, covering an area of two million square kilometers they are nearly about one-fifth the size of continental United States.

The Fish Canyon Tuff, the area with largest volcanic deposits on Earth only covered an area of around 30,000 square kilometers at its time of disruption.

Due to volcanic eruptions, jets of hot gas, molten rock, and ash skyrocketed in Martian skies and formed these huge rock deposits.

“This is a massive deposit, not only on a Martian scale but also in terms of the solar system, because we do not know of any other deposit that is like this,” said Lujendra Ojha, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and lead author of the new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The scientists further stated that the volcanic eruption would have played a major role in the history of Mars, the climate changing greenhouse gases ejected during that time would have allowed the existence of water in liquid state, and the whole planet might have been covered with water.

On the other hand, the release of toxic like sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide would have made it inhabitable at the same time.

The research team studied the gravity data of this region by using Mars orbiter spacecraft, interestingly they found that rocks in this region have a very porous structure, they are only one-third as dense as other Martian crusts.

So, they concluded that the volcanic ash had settled over time and afterward got cemented in these rocks like formations.

“If you were to distribute the Medusae Fossae globally, it would make a 9.7-meter (32-foot) thick layer,” Ojha said. “Given the sheer magnitude of this deposit, it really is incredible because it implies that the magma was not only rich in volatiles and also that it had to be volatile-rich for long periods of time.”

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