(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers have discovered traces of recent volcanic activity on the Red Planet. Perhaps the eruption occurred only 50 thousand years ago. This means that the next such event can happen at any time.
At one time, Mars experienced numerous and large-scale volcanic eruptions that changed the face of the planet. But almost all such cataclysms occurred 3-4 billion years ago. Until now, the youngest traces of volcanic activity on Mars were considered to be about 2.5 million years old. They are located in the Elysian Plain.
Now scientists have found a much younger geological structure on the same plain. Orbital images show a dark area around a fissure in the crust of Mars, part of the Cerberus Fossae fault system.
A dark spot with an area with a large city is symmetrically located on both sides of the crack. It is rich in the typical volcanic mineral, pyroxene. And even outwardly, this formation is very similar to the details of the surface of the Moon and Mercury, which are usually considered volcanic deposits.
Experts are inclined to believe that this structure is composed of ash and lava, which poured out of the crack during the eruption. According to experts, the ash column could rise to a height of up to ten kilometers. In total, the volcano emitted about ten million cubic meters of matter.
Most interesting of all is the age of these traces of the eruption. Judging by the number of meteorite craters, they are from 50 to 200 millennia. In geological terms, this is an instant. If volcanoes on Mars could erupt then, they can do so now.
It is important that it was in the area of the Cerberus Fossae faults that the sources of the strongest marsquakes recorded by the InSight probe were located. Perhaps these tremors are associated with the movements of magma in the depths.
If there are still centers of underground heat close to the surface on Mars, they could become sources of energy for hypothetical Martian microbes.
The details of the study are outlined in a scientific article published in the journal Icarus.
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