Saturday, April 28, 2012

ASU scientists: widespread explosive volcanism on Mars

An article in the journal Geology by two ASU planetary scientists describes discovery of glass-rich sand dunes across as much as one/third of Mars that have implications for water and thus life on the Red Planet.

Their reasoning is that such glass-rich sand is derived from erosion of explosive volcanic materials, that could only have formed initially through the interaction of magma with water or ice.   Such an environment could also have been conducive to microbial life.  [Right, glassy sand dunes on Mars.  Credit, NASA/JPL/UA]

The article concludes "Our results provide potential confirmation of models suggesting that explosive volcanism has been widespread on Mars, and also raise the possibilities that glass-rich volcaniclastics are a major source of eolian sand on Mars and that widespread surficial aqueous alteration has occurred under Amazonian climatic conditions."

Ref: Widespread weathered glass on the surface of Mars, Briony Horgan and James F. Bell III, published online March 26, 2012, doi: 10.1130/G32755.1

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