Molten magma flow discovered under the Martian plain

(ORDO NEWS) — It looks like Mars isn’t nearly as dead as it seems.

Many indications indicate that magma may continue to move beneath its surface, and that a hot mantle plume rises to the crust beneath the Elysian Plain. This makes the interior of the Red Planet a little more suitable for life.

At first glance, Mars is a planet whose geological activity has long stopped. Its old crust does not contain fresh traces of volcanism and plate movements, and there is no global magnetic field.

Only a few pieces of evidence can indicate that slow movements of magma continue in the depths of the Red Planet.

In particular, in the region of the furrows of Cerberus , on the vast Elysian Plain , the surface is relatively young, and the Mars InSight probe operating nearby has recorded marsquakes many times.

The authors have brought such evidence together and developed a model that describes the interior of the Elysian Plain. She predicts that a hot mantle plume lurks beneath its surface.

On Earth, such updrafts of the mantle rise towards the crust and can slowly pour to the surface through fissures.

Gravity anomalies in the Elysian Plain, near-quake epicenters, and other data show that the plume on Mars is over 3,500 kilometers across and heated by 95-285 degrees Celsius more than the surrounding rock.

Molten magma flow discovered under the Martian plain 2
Mantle plume under the furrows of Cerberus

Such dimensions are quite comparable with the size of mantle plumes on Earth, although the neighboring planet is about half the size of ours. Scientists attribute this to the noticeably lower gravity of Mars.

According to the calculations of the authors of the work, the center of the mantle flow can be located directly in the middle of the furrows of Cerberus, where the youngest rocks are located, as well as the epicenters of most of the local shaking that the Mars InSight spacecraft noticed.

The work by University of Arizona geologists Adrien Broquet and Jeffrey Andrews-Hanna shows that the interior of Mars is much more mobile and warmer than previously thought.

Perhaps this allows them to maintain reservoirs of liquid water below the surface of the Red Planet. Perhaps it was in these reservoirs that local life found shelter.


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