About 3.5 billion years ago, a volcano on Mars –called Tharsis— half the size of France erupted so much lava that it completely displaced the outer layers of the red planet, meaning that it essentially reorganized the location of the poles, according to a new study.
The study was released on Wednesday in the journal Nature. The findings not only answers the question of why the north and south poles have moved, but it also explains why dry river beds and underground reservoirs of water ice, and other Martian mysteries, are located where they are.
“If a similar shift happened on Earth, Paris would be in the polar circle,” said Sylvain Bouley, a geomorphologist at Université Paris-Sud and lead researcher of the study. “We’d see northern lights in France, and wine grapes would be grown in Sudan.”
These surface features are explained to be caused by a massive eruption of the Tharsis volcanic dome, the largest of its kind in the solar system.
The Tharsis and its effect
The Tharsis dome began to form over 3.7 billion years ago and continued active for several hundred million years. Fox News explained that as a result, a massive plateau formed that exceeded 3,100 miles in diameter, with a thickness of about 7.5 miles and a mass of a billion tons –-or 1/70th the mass of the Moon.
This mass was so huge that caused Mar’s surface to move and relocated the Tharsis dome to the equator, also affecting the water stability that was provided by the volcano, which used to allow the formation of river valleys.
Bouley explained that the Tharsis dome is enormous and an aberration in relation to the size of Mars. It is so large that a theoretical study in 2010 showed that if the dome was moved, Mars would immediately shift on its axis, explained Value Walk in its article.
Source: Journal Nature