Expert: The Greatest Volcano Eruption Makes Mars Gloomy

Mars search with NASA robots

Mars search with NASA robots

Netgenz - Technology | The United States Space and Aeronautics Agency (NASA) has found evidence that the planet Mars experienced a change in weather over several decades due to a massive volcanic eruption in the northern region called Arabia Terra about 4 billion years ago. Some researchers explain the volcanic eruption was so powerful that it could release large amounts of dust and toxic gases into the Martian air. The eruption's effects blocked sunlight and changed the weather on Mars for decades. That estimate was stated in a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in July.

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Geologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Patrick Whelley, said he and his colleagues were modeling the Martian weather to understand the effects of the massive eruption. He is the researcher leading the Arabia Terra territory analysis. "Each of these eruptions will have a significant weather effect, the possibility of the gases being released making the atmosphere thicker or blocking the Sun and making the atmosphere cooler," Whelley said as quoted from NASA's official website.

After the eruption threw rocks and liquefied gas and scattered thick volcanic ash up to several thousand miles from the eruption site, a volcano of this size collapsed into a hole called a giant "caldera". Researchers have seen seven calderas on Arabia Terra on Mars that were originally thought to be volcanoes. The team studied the ash trails left by the ancient eruption and were successful in finding them.

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Whelley's team used images from the MRO Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer to identify minerals above Mars. They looked for traces of the volcanic eruption on canyon walls and craters from several hundred to several thousand miles from the caldera. They believe the volcanic ash from the eruption will be carried by the wind. They identified volcanic minerals that turned to clay, including montmorillonite, imogolite and allophane.

The research team used images from the MRO camera to create a three-dimensional topographic map of Arabia Terra. By placing mineral data over topographic maps of the canyons and craters studied, some researchers can predict mineral-rich deposits and see well-preserved ash arrays. As quoted by CNET, data regarding the volcanic history of Mars will make some researchers bother when they find out what the impact of the super eruption on the red planet is.

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In addition, there are questions as to why Arabia Terra is one of the places on Mars that appears to be home to an active volcano. "Some people will read our paper and say, 'How? How could Mars do that? How could such a small planet melt enough rock to cause several thousand super-eruptions in one location?" said NASA Goddard geologist Jacob Richardson, who worked with Whelley.

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