Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Supervolcanoes Rocked Early Mars

Big calderas point to early magma outbursts that shaped the red planet.
by Dan Vergano
Massive “supervolcanoes” erupted across the northern face of Mars some 3.7 billion years ago, planetary scientists suggest. The eruptions likely blasted lava, sulfur, and ash across the red planet, altering its atmosphere and surface.
The planets of the inner solar system—Earth, Mars, Venus, and Mercury—started their lives as boiling-hot balls of rock, which cooled to feature thin crusts battered by asteroid and comet impacts. On Mars, that early crust was perhaps also punctured by supersize volcanoes with calderas more than 30 mi (50 km) wide, a newly identified kind of volcanism on the red planet…
(read more: National Geo)

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