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Dinosaurs and Volcano on Mars Went Extinct at the Same Time

By Cresswell McCoy | Mar 21, 2017 10:29 AM EDT

NASA's new research suggests that Mars volcano and Earth's Dinosaurs went extinct about the same time. The research reveals that the giant Martian shield volcano called "Arsia Mons" produced a lava flow every 1 to 3 million years. This took place during the final peak of activity, as the last volcanic activity on Mars stopped about 50 million years ago.

It was around the same time when Earth's Cretaceous-Paleogene became extinct. Huge numbers of Earth's plants and animal species including Dinosaurs went extinct at that time. The "Arsia Mons" volcano is located south of Mars's equator, and it was built up over billions of years.

According to NASA, the details of Arsia Mons's lifecycle are still being worked out. However, the most recent volcanic activity has taken place in the caldera. It is the bowl shaped depression at the top where 29 volcanic vents have been identified. Researchers still do not have a precise estimate when this volcanic field was active.

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The peak activity of "Arsia Mons" probably took place around 150 million years ago, that is exactly the late Dinosaur period on Earth. It appears that the volcano and the dinosaur's died out around the same time.

The caldera is deep enough to keep the entire volume of water in Lake Huron, NASA will require high resolution imaging to examine its volcanic features. The team had already mapped the boundaries of the lava flows from each of the 29 volcanic vents. Scientists have figured out that the oldest flows from the volcano dates back around 200 million years, and the youngest probably occurred around 10 to 90 million years ago.

Understanding the volcanic activity on Mars will allow researchers to go deeper into the planet's history. They will be able to study the interior structure and find out how activity at "Arisa Mons" became quiet.

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