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Mars may have had explosive volcanoes

Engadget Engadget 14/06/2016 Jon Fingas
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The prevailing wisdom is that Mars has long been a stable planet. Without tectonic plates, it didn't have the violent upheavals that lead to earthquakes and explosive volcanoes here on Earth... did it? Not so fast. Scientists combing over data from NASA's Curiosity rover have found evidence suggesting that explosive volcanoes were a reality in the past. Samples from the planet's Gale crater include high concentrations of the mineral tridymite, which you tend to see around explosive volcanoes here on Earth. If so, the material was most likely carried from volcanoes to the crater by ancient water streams.

This isn't conclusive data. Researchers would need to show that the tridymite didn't form through some other method to show that these volcanoes existed. And if they did, that would raise other questions. Did Mars once have tectonic plates and then lose them? If not, how did those volcanoes develop? Regardless of the exact answers, the very fact that these samples exist is a breakthrough in our understanding of the Red Planet.


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