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Red Planet’s interior may not churn much

Composition of 2.4-billion-year-old Martian meteorite matches that of younger ones

2:00pm, February 1, 2017
Mars’ volcano-filled Tharsis region

RED-HOT PLANET  A meteorite that probably originated from Mars’ volcano-filled Tharsis region (warmer colors denote higher elevations in this topographic map) suggests that a source of volcano-fueling magma inside the planet remained largely unchanged for billions of years.

An enduring source of magma on Mars fueled volcanic eruptions for billions of years, clues inside a rock flung from the Red Planet reveal.

The newfound rock belongs to a batch of meteorites called shergottites that originated from the same Martian volcanic system, researchers report February 1 in Science Advances. But the new rock is considerably older than its counterparts. While previously discovered shergottites solidified from Martian magma between 427 million and 574 million years ago, the new rock formed around 2.4 billion years ago, chemical analyses show.

Such a wide range of ages means that a volcanic system on Mars churned out hot rocks from a stable source of magma for nearly half of the planet’s history, says study coauthor Thomas Lapen, a geologist at the University of Houston. That endurance could help scientists better understand Mars’ interior. “These are some of

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