Ancient meteorite – the first chemical evidence of volcanic convection on Mars

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — For many years, we thought Mars was dead. A dusty, dry, barren planet where nothing moves except the howling wind. However, evidence has recently begun to appear that Mars has both volcanic and geological activity.

Well, the idea of ​​volcanic active Mars has become a little more real. Scientists claim that a meteorite, formed deep inside the womb of Mars, was the first chemical evidence of magma convection in the Martian mantle.

Olivine crystals in the Tissint meteorite, which fell to the Earth in 2011, could only form at changing temperatures, with rapid circulation in magmatic convection flows – indicating that the planet was volcanically active when the crystals formed about 574 to 582 million years ago.

“Previously, there was no evidence of convection on Mars, but the question is“ Is Mars still a volcanic active planet? ” It was previously investigated using various methods, ” explained geologist Nicola Marie of the University of Glasgow.

“Nevertheless, this is the first study that proves activity in the bowels of Mars from a purely chemical point of view on real Martian samples.”

Olivine, magnesium and iron silicate, are not uncommon. It crystallizes from chilled magma and is very common in the mantle of the Earth; in fact, the olivine group dominates the Earth’s mantle, usually as part of the rock mass. On the surface of the Earth, olivine is found in igneous rocks.

And olivine is also quite common on Mars. In fact, the presence of olivine on the surface of Mars was previously considered as evidence of the dryness of the planet, since the mineral quickly erodes in the presence of water.

But when Marie and his team began to study olivine crystals in the Tissint meteorite, in order to try to understand where the magma was, they noticed something strange. The crystals had unevenly distributed phosphorus rich bands.

We know about this phenomenon on Earth – this is a process called the solute trap. But it was unexpected to find him on Mars.

“This happens when the crystal growth rate exceeds the rate at which phosphorus can diffuse through the melt, so phosphorus must penetrate the crystalline structure and not“ float ”in liquid magma,” Marie said.

Researchers found that the Martian mantle had a temperature of about 1,560 degrees Celsius when olivine formed. It is very close to the ambient temperature in the Earth’s mantle of 1650 degrees Celsius during the Archean era, from 4 to 2.5 billion years ago.

This does not mean that Mars is like the early Earth. But this means that Mars could retain quite a lot of heat under its mantle; it is believed that due to the lack of plate tectonics, which helps to dissipate heat on Earth, Mars can cool more slowly.

“I really think that Mars is still a volcanic active world today, and new results indicate this,” Marie said.

NASA‘s ongoing InSight mission measures, among other things, the heat flux from the Martian crust. If Mars is still volcanically active, we can learn more about this very soon.


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