Scientists have unveiled evidence of volcanic activity on Mars dating back just one million years, challenging the long-held belief that the planet's geological activity ceased billions of years ago.
This revelation emerged from an extensive survey of the Elysium Planitia region on Mars, conducted using satellite imagery and ground-penetrating radar. The study, which offers a fresh perspective on Mars' geological dynamics, suggests that the planet might still host active volcanoes beneath its surface.
Previously, the Elysium Planitia was deemed relatively dormant, but this research indicates it was far more active than anticipated. Some of the identified volcanic events occurred as recently as one million years ago, making them incredibly recent in geological terms.
The Martian landscape in the Elysium Planitia exhibits characteristics resulting from young lava flows, baffling scientists with their apparent youthfulness. Moreover, the terrain features signs of lava interacting with ice or liquid water, giving rise to steam explosions – a phenomenon reminiscent of earthly landscapes teeming with microbial life.
The parallels between Earth and Mars, particularly in regions where volcanic activity meets water, suggest that life could potentially thrive on the Red Planet.
To gain a deeper understanding of the volcanic history of this region, researchers combined data from multiple sources, including topographic maps, satellite imagery, and ground-penetrating radar. This comprehensive approach allowed them to reconstruct a 3D map of each individual lava flow in the Elysium Planitia, revealing over 40 distinct volcanic events spanning from 1 million to 120 million years ago.