A Martian volcano may have erupted for two billion years straight
February 15, 2017 12:05 PM   Subscribe

A meteorite from Northwest Africa named "NWA 7635" has been dated at 2.4 billion years old by a team at Purdue University.

That's about 2 billion years older than 10 other similar meteorites that were ejected from the surface of Mars at the same time (published article). Why can Mars volcanoes have two billion year eruptions but Earth volcanoes can't? Mars plate tectonics appear to move much slower than on Earth- and Mars may only have two plates.
posted by Secretariat (20 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Astronomy Cast: Volcanoes on Mars has some interesting stuff, like how differences in lava flow on Mars shaped Olympus Mons.
posted by joeyh at 12:54 PM on February 15


Ooooooh, wait 'til I show my little Mars-fanatic when he gets home from school in five minutes!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:17 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Well, that settles it: Mars is the flying stone head from Zardoz that shoots it's cruel seed everywhere to spawn life. It's obviously a high pressure underground incubator for fungal and/or microbial life that periodically erupts to function as our solar system's space phallus. Mystery of life solved. Next.

/not really but wouldn't that be a cool twist
posted by saulgoodman at 1:24 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, plate tectonics on Mars is far from a settled question, particularly the active fault scenario that Yin describes in the press release. We'll know a lot more once InSight gets going.
posted by zamboni at 1:24 PM on February 15


i have been inspired by this volcano to lay on the floor screaming for 2 billion years
posted by poffin boffin at 1:28 PM on February 15 [7 favorites]


Next you have to orbit in space for 1.1 million years, exposed to cosmic rays, until your orbit is perturbed.
posted by Secretariat at 2:12 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


ok i will set my alarm for 1.999999 billion years
posted by poffin boffin at 2:19 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


In space, no one can hear you scream for 2 billion years.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:53 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Next you have to orbit in space for 1.1 million years, exposed to cosmic rays, until your orbit is perturbed.

My orbit is already perturbed, so is it just the cosmic ray exposure I need?
posted by nubs at 2:53 PM on February 15


Just to be clear, plate tectonics on Mars is far from a settled question

Heck, continental drift here on Earth was considered a kooky fringe thing until a flood of undeniable told-you-so evidence came to light (ocean floor, y'all) in the 1960s.

I have my own kooky fringe thing about Martian "volcanoes": Some big space stuff bumped into some much bigger space stuff at a very high rate of speed, and chunks flew out the exit wound. If they're getting all the way here, it's got to be a bit more than the planet just popping a zit like ours is always doing; it must be some real Zapruder stuff.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:57 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I was starting to write up the post, and my thought process was like this: well, we know these two rocks have the same composition, and we know they're dramatically different in age, but... two billion year eruption, in the same location? Oh, ok, because Mars has no plate tectonics, right? No, wait, volcanoes... and don't I remember something about fault scarps?

Then I looked up Mars plate tectonics and found this where An Yin is saying maybe it's only two plates. Yeah... I'd say we're definitely still in the early days of understanding how Mars works! We still call Earth plate tectonics a theory, and there's still a lot of details about how it works that we're still figuring out.
posted by Secretariat at 3:15 PM on February 15


Yeah they just figured out the layer of super compressed water in the crust of the Earth, and water isn't supposed to compress. Hey now! Maybe that volcano on Mars ate up the atmosphere, and spewed the guts of Mars out to the extent it lost its magnetism. Whatever, once Matt Damon left I just have so little interest. Except to look at what those rovers see. That place is a visual poem, written about isolation and waiting, with no one to watch it, but machines.
posted by Oyéah at 3:49 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


We still call Earth plate tectonics a theory

Sigh. Yeah, we do. Here's why:
A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed, preferably using a written, predefined, protocol of observations and experiments. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge.
In science, "theory" means "thing we know for sure."
posted by Sys Rq at 4:38 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


Now I have a link to send to people when I need to explain what happens after I have Taco Bell.
posted by Drumhellz at 6:25 PM on February 15


NWA 7365 remains one of their first demo tracks and some say cleared the music scene for modern hip-hop.
posted by humanfont at 7:18 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Still blows my mind that Straight Outta Compton came out that long ago.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:42 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


came for the NWA joke, was not disappointed. dibs on "volcanos on mars" band name.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:50 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Straight outta Coblentz
posted by zippy at 12:32 AM on February 16


humanfront: NWA 7365 remains one of their first demo tracks and some say cleared the music scene for modern hip-hop.

I don't know why George Lucas doesn't like to talk about it, but the sound from "THX 1138" was sampled a ton on NWA's "7365" -- I mean, he should be flattered.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:07 AM on February 16


This Is Just To Say

I did not eat
the blueberries
that were in
the icebox
they call Mars.

and which
you were probably
saving
hoping to break your teeth,
masochist.

Forgive me
but they were volcanized
so chalky
and so old
posted by Oyéah at 6:31 PM on February 16


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