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The Martian volcano Arsia Mons may have been home to one of the most recent habitable environments yet found on the Red Planet, geologists say. The research shows that volcanic eruptions beneath a glacial ice sheet would have created substantial amounts of liquid water on Mars's surface around 210 million years ago. Where there was water, there is the possibility of past life.

Heat from a volcano erupting beneath an immense glacier would have created large lakes of liquid water on Mars in the relatively recent past. And where there's water, there is also the possibility of life. A recent paper by Brown University researchers calculates how much water may have been present near the Arsia Mons volcano and how long it may have remained.

Nearly twice as tall as Mount Everest, Arsia Mons is the third tallest volcano on Mars and one of the largest mountains in the solar system. This new analysis of the landforms surrounding Arsia Mons shows that eruptions along the volcano's northwest flank happened at the same time that a glacier covered the region around 210 million years ago. The heat from those eruptions would have melted massive amounts of ice to form englacial lakes -- bodies of water that form within glaciers like liquid bubbles in a half-frozen ice cube.

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