Explosive volcanoes may explain mysterious rock formation on Mars

Explosive volcanoes may explain mysterious rock formation on Mars
Explosive volcanoes may explain mysterious rock formation on Mars

New Delhi : A mysterious rock formation on Mars may have connections to explosive volcanic eruptions that shot jets of hot ash, rock and gas skyward, a study has found.

The findings in the study have been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. The results will enable scientists in better understanding the outer shell of Mars and its habitable nature in future.

The mysterious rock formation - Medusae Fossae - was first spotted by NASA's Mariner spacecraft in 1960 at the Mars's equator, with undulating hills and abrupt mesas.

Researchers suggest that the formation was deposited during explosive volcanic eruptions on the red planet more than 3 billion years ago.

"This is a massive deposit, not only on a Martian scale, but also in terms of the solar system, because we do not know of any other deposit that is like this," said Lujendra Ojha, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University in the US.

The Medusae Fossae Formation consists of hills and mounds of sedimentary rock straddling Mars's equator. Sedimentary rock forms when rock dust and debris accumulate on a planet's surface and cement over time.

Scientists have known about the Medusae Fossae for decades, but were unsure whether wind, water, ice or volcanic eruptions deposited rock debris in that location.

But now, after several tests including gravity data, the researchers are now confident that the rock is so porous, it had to have been deposited by explosive volcanic eruptions.