Supervolcanoes within an ancient volcanic province in Arabia Terra, Mars

Some of Mars’ deep craters were actually ancient supervolcanoes that spewed ash over the Red Planet and probably changed its climate, researchers suggest in a controversial new study. In last week’s issue of the journal Nature, Joseph Michalski and co-author Jacob Bleacher of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center say several irregularly shaped craters in Mars’ Arabia Terra region have a structure similar to supervolcanoes on Earth, such as the hotspot that lies beneath Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Billions of years ago, each Martian supervolcano could have blasted out hundreds of cubic miles’ worth of magma — so much material that the surface collapsed, leaving deep, irregular craters behind.

MOLA topographic data are draped over THEMIS daytime infrared data, showing the morphology of Eden patera on Mars. Image credit: Joseph R. Michalskiand Jacob E. Bleacher.

MOLA topographic data are draped over THEMIS daytime infrared data, showing the morphology of Eden patera on Mars. Image credit: Joseph R. Michalski and Jacob E. Bleacher.

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