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Could there have been recent volcanism under the surface of Mars?

13 Feb 2019, 10:48 UTC
Could there have been recent volcanism under the surface of Mars?
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A new study in Geophysical Research Letters argues there needs to be an underground source of heat for liquid water to exist underneath the polar ice cap.Image credit: NASA
A study published last year in the journal Science suggested liquid water is present beneath the south polar ice cap of Mars. Now, a new study in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters argues there needs to be an underground source of heat for liquid water to exist underneath the polar ice cap.
The new research does not take sides as to whether the liquid water exists. Instead, the authors suggest recent magmatic activity – the formation of a magma chamber within the past few hundred thousand years – must have occurred underneath the surface of Mars for there to be enough heat to produce liquid water underneath the kilometre-and-a-half thick ice cap. On the flip side, the study’s authors argue that if there was not recent magmatic activity underneath the surface of Mars, then there is not likely liquid water underneath the ice cap.
“Different people may go different ways with this, and we’re really interested to see how the community reacts to it,” says Michael Sori, an ...

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