(CNN) – A large part of the 317 Martian meteorites that have ever fallen to Earth may have come from the eruption of the alien supervolcano Tharsis 1 million years ago.
Tooting is the largest supervolcano on Mars and possibly the largest in the solar system. About 1 million years ago, an asteroid collided with the red planet and triggered a massive eruption from this supervolcano, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.
Lead author of the study, meteorologist Luke Daly from the University of Glasgow said that Tharsis was an ancient giant volcano, actually consisting of thousands of individual volcanoes combined with a total area nearly three times the size. area of the United States. It was built over billions of years by countless injections of magma, so massive that when it formed it tilted the planet by more than 20 degrees.
According to National Geographic, clues to Tharsis’s super-eruption come from Martian meteorites found on Earth, especially a piece weighing up to several kilograms that fell in Morocco in 2011. Most Martian meteorites belong to one group. group called shergottit. Most of them are volcanic rocks of similar composition, but a few, known as “depleted shergottites”, contain strange chemical signatures.
These “exhausted shergottites” lack elements such as neodymium and lathanum, which do not like to associate with minerals in the mantle of Mars. Surface rocks will contain these 2 elements, while mantle rocks will not. Thus, depleted shergottite is the mantle rock.
There are only two ways in which a planet’s mantle rock can move to the surface, only to be ejected to another planet: by plate tectonics disturbing the deep mantle material on top, or by a jet stream. Violent eruptions carry material from the depths of the planet to the surface. Mars does not have plate tectonics like Earth, so depleted shergottite can only be brought to the surface by a volcanic eruption.
The eruption was so powerful that it blasted rocks all the way to Earth, indicating that it was a supervolcano that, according to the researchers’ calculations, is the most powerful volcano in the solar system. The ruins of Tharisis are now a giant crater named Tooting that NASA intends to “carefully” take care of.