Scientists from France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) have made an intriguing discovery about two volcanoes on Mars, Olympus Mons and Alba Mons. They believe that these massive volcanoes were once islands in an ancient Martian ocean.
Olympus Mons, in particular, is an outstanding feature in the solar system. Standing at over 25,000 meters tall and spanning 601 kilometers wide, it is the largest mountain in the entire solar system. To put its size into perspective, it is three times higher than Mount Everest and about 100 times larger than Mauna Loa, the tallest volcano on Earth. In fact, the scale of Olympus Mons is approximately the size of France.
One unique aspect of Olympus Mons is its wide and flat escarpment, which suggests that it is a shield volcano. However, its lower profile compared to its immense height has long puzzled scientists.
Recent research by the CNRS suggests that Olympus Mons was formed by lava flowing into a body of liquid water. This finding indicates that the volcano was once an active volcanic island. To reach this conclusion, data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter and satellite images were compared to field studies of volcanic islands on Earth, including the Azores, Hawaii, the Galapagos, Cape Verde, and the Canary Islands. Similarities were found, further supporting the theory of Olympus Mons’ past island status.
The existence of a previous ocean on Mars is gaining more evidence with each discovery. Both American and Chinese Martian rovers have found signs of water on the planet. Each piece of information brings us closer to understanding the history and disappearance of water on Mars.
In addition to Olympus Mons, another volcano on Mars, Alba Mons, also exhibits similar features. It is located approximately 1,800 kilometers away from Olympus Mons and is believed to have been another volcanic island in the past. The similarities between these two volcanoes further strengthen the hypothesis of an ancient Martian ocean.
Understanding the past geological activity on Mars and the presence of water throughout its history is crucial for ongoing exploration and the search for signs of past or present life on the planet. The age of Olympus Mons and its connection to the vanished Martian ocean may hold answers to these intriguing questions. The findings from the study conducted by CNRS shed light on the dynamic nature of Mars and provide valuable insights into its ancient past.
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