September 6, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Mars Joins Active Volcano Club

Mars may join Earth and Jupiter’s moon Io in having active hot-lava volcanos, says a report on BBC News.  A field of smooth volcanic cones near the north pole show no sign of impact craters or wind-blown features, suggesting they could have erupted recently.  If so, Mars could still be geologically active.

At half the radius and one-fourth the volume of Earth, Mars should have cooled much faster over assumed geologic time.  Mars also lacks tectonic plates.  Yet both Mars, and possibly Venus, show evidence of recent volcanic activity that could be ongoing now.  Where is the evidence for billions of years of slow cooling?  These are not isolated cases.  Cryovolcanic activity has been observed on Enceladus and Titan, and is either extant or recent on Triton, Europa and Ganymede.  Many of the other moons, like Iapetus, Tethys, Miranda and Ariel display youthful surface features.  Earth, of course, has a highly dynamic surface.  The solar system looks much too lively to be an elderly 4.5 billion years old.

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