Seismic Activity Bolsters Hope For Life on Mars

Seismic Activity Bolsters Hope For Life on Mars

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A pair of long gashes in the surface of Mars associated with a towering volcano shows evidence of marsquakes that could have occurred within the past few million years, and perhaps within modern times, according to new research. If such activity is recent, and it can be traced to the volcano, it would imply that the mountain is still active – its magma providing a source of heat to melt ice and provide potential habitats for simple forms of life.

The gash is one of a pair of parallel features known collectively as Cerberus Fossae. These appear to be enormous collapsed lava dikes formed during eruptions of Elysium Mons, a volcano that vaults more than eight miles above the vast lava fields that surround it. The mountain is thought to have been active within the past 2 million years. In principle, it still could be, with magma working its way down the flanks through subsurface conduits, rather than through repeated surface eruptions.

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