Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The New Biggest Volvano In The Solar System-Tharsis Rise On Mars

Arsia Mons, on the Tharsis Rise.
Arsia Mons, one of four volcanoes on Tharsis Rise, in a satellite picture.
Image courtesy THEMIS/NASA
Andrew Fazekas
Published December 3, 2010
As wide as the state of Arizona, Olympus Mons on Mars has long held the title of biggest volcano in the solar system. But if a new theory proves true, Olympus is about to be cast down.
In a recent paper, a team of geologists suggests that Olympus—along with the neighboring volcanoes Arsia, Pavonis, and Ascraeus—is just part of a much larger volcanic structure that stretches 4,350 miles (7,000 kilometers) across the red planet.
That would mean the gigantic raised plateau, known as Tharsis Rise, is the new volcanic record holder, the study authors say.
"If we look at it at this bigger scale, one can think of Olympus as a small parasitic cone that is part of Tharsis, just like all the other smaller volcanoes on Tharsis," said study co-author Andrea Borgia, a visiting professor at The Open University in the U.K.
Mars Volcano Like a Big Mount Etna?
Using mathematical models, Borgia and co-author John Murray found that Tharsis Rise shares a lot of the same physical characteristics with one of Earth's best studied and most active volcanoes, Mount Etna in Sicily.
Geologists classify Etna as a spreading volcano. This type of peak is built on a relatively weak rock layer, so that the erupting lava spreads out as the volcano builds mass and becomes heavier.
"It's like if you build a pile of crystalline sugar on a table. The pile remains stable through time," Borgia said. "However, if you build the same sugar pile on a layer of honey, the pile will spread laterally, collapsing at the center."
Based on the models, Borgia thinks Tharsis Rise is simply a scaled-up version of Etna.
For example, Etna hosts smaller, so-called parasitic cones, which form when lava escapes from fractures other than the central volcanic vent. According to the study authors, Olympus Mons and the other three nearby volcanoes on Tharsis Rise could be similar features.
"Small or large is not important. To have a volcano you need magma to be erupted through a crater and an edifice built by the accumulation of the erupted products," Borgia said.
"Tharsis Rise is just a really big volcanic edifice."
Hoping for a Field Trip
Proving the new theory may take some time, Borgia added, since getting the concrete truth may ultimately require either robotic or human explorers to be sent to this region of Mars.
Although the twin Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are in Mars's equatorial region, neither rover is near Tharsis. And the four candidate landing sites for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, slated to launch late next year, aren't close by either.
"Doing detailed field geology would be a very important step toward the demonstration of this thesis," Borgia said.
"If they would allow me, I would go there right now!"
The Tharsis volcano research was published in February in a Geological Society of America Special Paper.
Comments (6)


4:46 AM on December 6, 2010
It's amazing.......


1:07 AM on December 6, 2010
Johnnyack - that was a funny, well-written piece; however, I would encourage you to not post that kind of stuff. In this day and age there are a lot of people, who will believe just about anything (such as the myth about man-made global warming) and they will subsequently spread it far and wide. 

Don't be surprised to see CNN or some other idiot-network to publish your piece as new research.


12:52 PM on December 5, 2010
Gods almighty jonnyack, are you trying to pull off some kind of obscure joke? Venus did not have any "close encounters" nor did it get "created by an enormous impact on Jupiter" or "rage across the solar system" 6000 years ago! Nor was Mars closer to Earth, and neither it nor Venus had ANYTHING to do with raising the Himalayas, which is a mountainchain rised by the collision of the subcontinent and the Eurasian tectonic plate millions of years ago. 

You may enjoy writing the kind of rubbish you have posted here, as some kind of joke, but impressionable people might believe it, as may kids so kindly refrain from spreading this kind of nonsense!


11:36 AM on December 5, 2010
Although the Tharsis region exhibits a number of volcanic cones, it did not originate from within Mars. The entire area was raised by the tidal force of proto-Venus during many close encounters between the within the last 6,000 years. This force on the semi-rigid Mars not only raised Tharsis, but also created a well documented global rift system, the most obvious feature of which is the Valles Marineris. The Tharsis rise was so high back in the Bronze and Iron ages, when it was close to the Earth, that it was called the 'dog-faced star'. Forces within a planet cannot push such a large area upwards - what is it pushing against? Venus, on the other hand, now shows little deformation because it was essentially a molten sphere of rock at that date and has settled back to a spherical shape. 

The Tibetan-Himalayan complex on the Earth was formed in exactly the same way as the Tharsis Bulge, by the tidal force of proto-Venus when it passed very close to the Earth about 6,000 years ago.

Because proto-Venus was created by an enormous impact on Jupiter around 6,000 years ago it raged through the solar system crossing the orbits of the other terrestrial planets, Mars and Earth. It was so hot when it passed very close to the Earth the first time, that it scorched a path from northern Africa all the way to Tibet, which can easily be seen in photographs of the earth from space. It was at that date that the Sahara was formed and the entire Middle East and central Asia were desicated.

If anyone is wondering how Mercury fits into this picture - it was the solid core of Mars until it exited through the Valles Marineris and drifted into the inner solar system while, in keeping with the laws of physics, the outer shell and the remaining liquid core collapsed in on itself and drifted out to become the 'planet' Mars. This is how it finally was able to leave the vicinity of the Earth.

Geologists, limited by their gradualism or uniformitarian paradigm, can scratch the surfaces of all the planets for millennia and will never discover the truth. The solar system we see today was formed by cyclic planetary catastrophism.

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