Evidence For Large-Scale Explosive Volcanism On Mars

Brian Hynek
of Washington University

BBC stories related to Brian's talk.
Giant Martian Lake Traced
Ice Reservoirs Found on Mars
Water May Flow on Mars

"Evidence For Large-Scale Explosive Volcanism On Mars", a lecture by Brian Hynek of Washington University, will be featured at the June meeting of the St. Louis Astronomical Society.

Despite a flotilla of robot spacecraft over the past thirty-seven years, Mars continues to present mysteries and challenges to planetary scientists. Among them is the role of water, especially liquid water, during the course of the Red Planet's history. In December 2000, the sharp eyes of the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor detected thick stacks of layered deposits blanketing some Martian surface regions. Several scientists suggested that these are layers of sediment laid down in ancient lakes hundreds of millions of years ago. If true, such a theory would explain much about the abundance of water on the young Mars, and fuel speculation about the development of life there. But there are several serious problems with such an interpretation. A research team at Washington University has proposed a far different explanation: that the layers result from a series of violent eruptions by gigantic volcanoes. Huge plumes of ash would rain down on the surface for hundreds of miles, and perhaps those deposits are the features that the NASA spacecraft have detected. Brian Hynek will talk about the nature of the surface of Mars, about these ridged and layered features in particular, and why they could have been formed by volcanic activity.

Brian Hynek is a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University. He is part of the Planetary Geodynamics research team directed by Professor Roger Phillips. Mr. Hynek was awarded a Bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa in 1998, and a Master's degree from Washington University in 2001.