Mars volcano, dinosaurs extinct at the same time

Pablo Tucker
March 24, 2017

When Arsia Mons was active it used to produce a lava flow at its summit once every 1 to 3 million years. NASA conducted a new research involving the giant Martian volcano, Arsia Mons. However, up there on Mars, a volcano which took billions of years to be molded was confronting the same fate as dinosaurs did at about the same time.

NASA researchers were able to identify 29 volcanic vents in this gargantuan caldera.

Until now, it's been hard to make a precise estimate of when this volcanic field was active.

"It's possible, though, that the last volcanic vent or two might have been active in the past 50 million years, which is very recent in geological terms", he added.

The research was published earlier this year in "earth and planetary science letters".

In a 2015 study, USA researchers found evidence from impact craters on Earth suggest major asteroids tend to hit Earth once roughly every 26 million years, causing mass extinctions. It is big enough to hold all the waters in Lake Huron, the third-largest freshwater lake on Earth.

The team mapped the boundaries of the lava flows from each of the 29 volcanic vents and determined the stratigraphy.

This process, in combination with a new computer model developed by scientists at the University of Florida, allowed the scientists to determine that the oldest flows date back 200 million years, while the youngest go back 50 million years. Then, about 50 million years ago, it stopped producing lava altogether. "Arsia Mons was creating about one volcanic vent every 1 to 3 million years at the peak, compared to one every 10,000 years or so in similar regions on Earth", he explained.

The computer modeling didn't just indicate age, though; it also revealed the volume of each flow.

At its peak, the Arsia Mons's caldera probably oozed up to two cubic miles of magma every million years, gradually building up the volcano layer by layer.

"Think of it like a slow, leaky faucet of magma". These vents are situated inside the caldera - the cavity molded gloom on top of the fountain of liquid magma.

According to researchers, the latest volcanic activity took place in the Red Planet's caldera, which is a bowl-shaped depression. The Mars volcano then expired at around the same time as the human planet's dinosaurs. While previously, both events are believed to be completely secluded from each other, a new study has found an unlikely and unanticipated link between Martian volcanoes and earth's largest animal - Dinosaur.

Arsia Mons is one of three huge volcanoes that make up the mountain group known as Tharsis Montes. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

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