A new NASA study has revealed that "Arsia Mons", a giant shield Mars volcano, ceased its volcanic activity about 50 million years ago. It coincides with the same time frame when a number of plants and animal species, including dinosaurs, went extinct, says the study.
According to NASA, the extinction of any activity on the Arsia Mons volcano took place around the time of Earth's "Cretaceous-Paleogene" period. The study says that the volcano was a collection of a trio of broad, gently sloping volcanoes known together by the name of "Tharsis Montes". The researchers took the help of the context camera of NASA's "Reconnaissance" Orbiter to take high-resolution images of the caldera of the "Arsia Mons" volcano, in order to examine its volcanic features.
The NASA researchers also made an estimate of the ages of the lava flows from all the 29 volcanic vents and determined the "stratigraphy" (layering) of the flows. The information was used to determine the volcanic equivalent of the Arsia Mons' 29 vents. It was found that the latest flow dated almost 50 million years back. The modeling also revealed the fact that the Arsia Mons volcano produced around 1-8 cubic kilometers of magma each million years.
The researchers opine that it is important to understand the pattern of volcanic activities of Arsia Mons for understanding the anatomy and life cycle of Mars' volcanoes. The NASA researchers are also pretty sure that this study will hand them clues about how the volcanic activities on Arsia Mons started and how it eventually went quite.
According to Inverse, the Arsia Mons volcano was very much active at the time of the destruction of Earth, which saw the dinosaurs go extinct. Though NASA has acknowledged that there is a good enough chance for the volcanic activity to have gone off a couple of times during the last 50 million years, more research is needed to confirm the fact.
The NASA researchers believe that understanding the Arsia Mons' volcanic activities might open new doors to analyze Mars' history and interior structure. The study has been published in the "Earth and Planetary Science Letters".