Scientists recently found evidence of thousands of volcanic eruptions, or “super eruptions,” the most violent eruptions known.
By blowing water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide into the air, these eruptions ripped apart the surface of Mars over a period of 500 million years about 4 billion years ago.
And NASA paints a picture of Mars in the past, making it look like an inferno of molten rock, gas and ash.
Scientists are researching the history of the “Arabia Terra”, an area north of Mars, and discovered that it likely hosted thousands of massive volcanic eruptions.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, September 15, NASA described the super-eruptions as “so powerful that they release oceans of dust and toxic gases into the air, blocking sunlight and altering the planet’s climate for decades.”
A research paper published in Geophysical Research Letters shows evidence that “Ard al-Arab” hosted several mind-boggling volcanic eruptions over a period of 500 million years about 4 billion years ago.
NASA said a massive volcanic eruption could erupt the equivalent of 400 million Olympic-sized swimming pools of molten rock and gas. After this epic eruption, the volcano collapses into a large crater known as a caldera.
We have volcanic calderas on Earth, including the huge crater-like caldera in Yellowstone National Park in the United States.
Scientists looked at seven calderas in the “Arabian Land” on Mars that were already suspected of having volcanic origins. The team searched for ash left by ancient eruptions.
Using images and data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists traced where ash fell from the volcanoes and found well-preserved layers of the material. It would have taken thousands of blasts to deposit all the ash.
Data on Mars’ volcanic history will keep scientists busy as they work on the potential impact of massive eruptions on the Red Planet’s climate.
There is also a question as to why “Ard al-Arab” is the only place on Mars that appears to have been home to these erupting volcanoes.
“Each of these eruptions has had a significant climate impact, maybe the gas released is making the atmosphere thicker or blocking the sun and making the atmosphere cooler,” said Patrick Willey, a geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Mars is some work that they have to do to try to understand the effect of volcanoes.”
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