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.