A new analysis of a rare Martian meteorite moves the arrows back to the moment when our neighbor was covered with lava.
After analyzing a semi-pound sample, the scientists found out that two billion years ago there were active volcanoes on the Red Planet. And this makes the planet not only the most volcanically active in the Solar System, but also the most long-lived.
A meteorite called North-West Africa (NWA) 7635 was found in 2012 in Algeria (in the top picture). A new isotope analysis, led by geologist Tom Lapin of the University of Houston, linked it to ten other Martian meteorites, which were probably ejected from one volcano about 1.1 million years ago.
“We do not know the exact place of their release. But most likely it happened in the volcanic plains or shield volcanoes of Tarsis or Elysium, ”said Lapin. The analysis also showed that the sample froze 2.4 billion years ago, and this is much older than similar meteorites (their age reached 327-600 million years).
“Finding a meteorite ejection site with lava flows over 2 billion years old is of great importance for understanding the volcanic history of Mars,” he continues. “This is the first direct evidence of absolute time, a mantle source, and spatial associations of volcanism on Mars.”
The study also “establishes a template for subsequent testing of hypotheses regarding the periodicity of magnetism, the time of volcanic gas emissions into the atmosphere and descriptions of the dynamics of the mantle”
Mars was already known for having the largest volcano in the Solar System - Olympus, stretching to Arizona and about 16 miles in height. The NWA is part of a collection of 124 Martian meteorites that have been restored to Earth.