October 22, 2013
Scientists from NASA and the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz., have identified what could be a supervolcano on Mars—the first discovery of its kind.
The volcano in question, a vast circular basin on the face of the Red Planet, previously had been classified as an impact crater. Researchers now suggest the basin is actually what remains of an ancient supervolcano eruption. Their assessment is based on images and topographic data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey, Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, as well as the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.
In the Oct. 3 issue of the journal Nature, Joseph Michalski, a researcher affiliated with the Planetary Science Institute and the Natural History Museum in London, and Jacob Bleacher of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., laid out their case that the basin, recently named Eden Patera, is a volcanic caldera. Because a caldera is a depression, it can look like a crater formed by an impact, rather than a volcano.