The timing of last volcanic activity on Mars and the extinction of dinosaurs coincide, a new NASA study has suggested. According to the new NASA study, large number of plant and animal species went extinct at a time when Mars was witnessing its last volcanic activity, the eruption of giant Martian volcano Arsia Mons, some 50 million years ago.
The Martian volcano Arsia Mons gave birth to one new lava flow at its summit every one to three million years during the final peak of activity, reveals the research.
Around the time of Earth’s Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event about 50 million years ago, the last volcanic activity on Mars ceased.
“We estimate that the peak activity for the volcanic field at the summit of Arsia Mons probably occurred approximately 150 million years ago - the late Jurassic period on Earth and then died out around the same time as Earth’s dinosaurs,” said Jacob Richardson of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt in the US.
“It’s possible, though, that the last volcanic vent or two might have been active in the past 50 million years, which is very recent in geological terms,” he added.
The boundaries of the lava flows from each of the 29 volcanic vents were mapped by the researchers, who determined the stratigraphy, or layering, of the flows.
A technique known as crater counting was also performed to tally up the number of craters at least 100 meters in diameter in order to estimate the ages of the flows.
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The two types of information was combined by Researchers, including those from University of South Florida in the US, in order to determine the volcanic equivalent of a batting order for Arsia Mons’ 29 vents.
While the oldest flows took place about 200 million years ago, the youngest ones probably occurred 10 to 90 million years ago. The study was published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.