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Mars: Ancient lava flows discovered deep below the surface

Even the Nasa Odyssey mission identified extensive volcanic fields in the Tharsis region of Mars. (Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU)

With the Insight Lander, Mars research has expanded to include the investigation of the interior of the red planet. The lander’s measuring instruments now make it possible to provide detailed information on the structure of the Mars crust, as Bruce Banerdt, lead researcher of the Insight mission, confirmed to Inverse:

“We have been collecting information about the surface for 15 years, we have the topography, the atmosphere and that Measured magnetic field – but we didn’t really understand what it was made of. Understanding the basic building blocks of the planet has been a lot of guesswork up until now. ”

Mars research should help to explain the formation of the earth

That has fundamentally changed the data of the lander. Banerdt and his team were able to find deep layers of lava flows that are billions of years old. Such volcanic activities can on the one hand help to chronologize the evolutionary history of Mars, but on the other hand they are also useful for understanding the evolutionary past of the earth, which is very similar to Mars in its composition.

“We have a pretty good idea of ​​the structure of the earth, but we don’t really understand how it came to be,” says Banerdt.

While the earth has already undergone a whole series of transformations, not least those made by humans, it is not easy to collect original data. This is completely different on Mars.

“Everything is much more untouched on Mars,” says Banerdt. “So we can look at the internal structure of Mars and largely conclude that the earth might have looked like this 4.5 billion years ago, and basically better understand how the earth was formed.”

Volcanic activity on Mars with long breaks

It is not surprising that there is lava on Mars. After all, we have known for a long time that there are even super volcanoes on the red planet whose activities must have lasted thousands of years. Nevertheless, the Insight mission is the first to not merely investigate the surface, but to extend its seismic feelers hundreds of meters below the surface.

At a depth of about 200 meters below the surface of the planet, the researchers found various layers of old lava flows and sedimentary rocks. What they found particularly remarkable was the fact that they were able to locate separate lava flows with a 30 to 40 meter thick layer of sedimentary rock, which are about 3.6 and 1.7 billion years old.

“This helps us to find out when the various activities took place,” says Banerdt. “The fact that this layer of sediment is between the two volcanic rocks shows that there was a pause in volcanic activity, a fairly long pause because it takes a long time for sedimentary rocks to form. This gives the geologists information that we not only have a uniform history of volcanism, but that it may take place in different phases. “

The results of the evaluations were published on Monday in the journal Nature Communications.

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Sandra Loyd
Sandra is the Reporter working for World Weekly News. She loves to learn about the latest news from all around the world and share it with our readers.

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