Giant Mars Volcano may have Had a Habitable Environment; Geologists Find [Representational Image]
Giant Mars Volcano may have Had a Habitable Environment; Geologists Find [Representational Image]Reuters

Scientists have uncovered the eruption of the huge Martian volcano that was once covered in glacial ice, which may have contributed in the creation of large lakes on the surface of the red planet. 

Scientists, based on a new study, believe that the Martian volcano may have once had a habitable environment, according to Business Standard.

Geologists from Brown University have discovered that Arisia Mons, the third tallest volcano on the red planet and twice as tall as Mount Everest, erupted about 210 million years ago. Arsia Mons' site is actually much younger than the habitable environment that was seen by Mars rovers including Curiosity and others. The fact that the volcano Arsia Mons site is moderately young makes it an interesting topic for future exploration.

The massive heat of lava from the eruptions would have melted huge amounts of ice to form englacial lakes - water bodies that form within glaciers like the one that forms as liquid bubbles in a huge ice crystal.

Scanlon, lead researcher of the study along with geologist Jim Head, David Marchant from Boston University and Lionel Wilson at the Lancaster Environmental Centre in the U.K., searched for data that showed that volcanic lava flooded the region around the same time when the glacier was present.

With the help of data received from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Scanlon found lava formation on Mars that appeared similar to those formed on Earth while massive lava erupts from the ocean-bed.

The lava flow gets constrained by the pressure of the ice sheet, which eventually chills the lava thus forming ridges and mounds. The study also showed evidence of the formation of a river in a jokulhlaup – immense flood that take place when glacier allows trapped water to release.

Scanlon, analyzing the sizes of the ridges formations and using basic thermodynamics, studied the amount of meltwater that lava would create. The analysis found that lakes would have been created by two of the deposits containing about 40 cubic kilometers of water each, while another lake showed 20 cubic kilometers of water.

The details of the study have been published in the journal Icarus.