NASA researchers have learned that a volcano on Mars went dormant around the same time that the dinosaurs became extinct on Earth. Arsia Mons is the southernmost volcano in a group of three massive Martian volcanoes known collectively as Tharsis Montes. Until now, the volcano's history has remained a mystery. But thanks to a new computer model, scientists were finally able to figure out when Arsia Mons stopped spewing out lava.
According to the model, volcanic activity at Arsia Mons came to a halt about 50 million years ago. Around that same time, Earth experienced the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which wiped out three-quarters of its animal and plant species, including the dinosaurs.
Richardson and his team identified 29 volcanic vents on Arsia Mons. These vents are located inside the caldera- — the crater-shaped depression on top of the volcano. Calderas form when volcanoes collapse under their own weight as lava accumulates on top. The caldera on Arsia Mons, which is big enough to hold at least all the water in Lake Huron, measures 69 miles. Richardson and his team used high-resolution images from Context Camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to map lava flows around the 29 vents. The results of the study were published in January in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
Content source: livescience.com