Taking the pulse of Mars via dating of a plume-fed volcanoOPEN ACCESS 

Benjamin E. Cohen, Darren F. Mark, William S. Cassata, Martin R. Lee, Tim Tomkinson & Caroline L. Smith

Nature Communications 8, Article number: 640 (2017)


“Mars hosts the solar system’s largest volcanoes. Although their size and impact crater density indicate continued activity over billions of years, their formation rates are poorly understood. Here we quantify the growth rate of a Martian volcano by 40Ar/39Ar and cosmogenic exposure dating of six nakhlites, meteorites that were ejected from Mars by a single impact event at 10.7 ± 0.8 Ma (2σ). We find that the nakhlites sample a layered volcanic sequence with at least four discrete eruptive events spanning 93 ± 12 Ma (1416 ± 7 Ma to 1322 ± 10 Ma (2σ)). A non-radiogenic trapped 40Ar/36Ar value of 1511 ± 74 (2σ) provides a precise and robust constraint for the mid-Amazonian Martian atmosphere. Our data show that the nakhlite-source volcano grew at a rate of ca. 0.4–0.7 m Ma−1—three orders of magnitude slower than comparable volcanoes on Earth, and necessitating that Mars was far more volcanically active earlier in its history.”