Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-1458
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-1458
 
19 Jan 2023
19 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

An overview of sedimentary volcanism on Mars

Petr Brož1, Dorothy Oehler2, Adriano Mazzini3, Ernst Hauber4, Goro Komatsu5, Giuseppe Etiope6,7, and Vojtěch Cuřín8 Petr Brož et al.
  • 1Institute of Geophysics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Boční II/1401, 141 31 Prague, Czech Republic
  • 2Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, AZ, United States
  • 3Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics, University of Oslo, Norway
  • 4Institute of Planetary Research, DLR, Rutherfordstr. 2, 12489, Berlin, Germany
  • 5International Research School of Planetary Sciences, Università d'Annunzio, Viale Pindaro 42, 65127 Pescara, Italy
  • 6Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione Roma 2, Italy
  • 7Faculty of Environmental Science and Engineering, Babes Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • 8Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic

Abstract. Extensive fields of sub-kilometre-to kilometre-scale mounds, cones, domes, shields, and flow-like edifices cover large parts of the martian lowlands. These features have been compared to structures on Earth produced by sedimentary volcanism – a process that involves subsurface sediment/fluid mobilization and commonly releases methane to the atmosphere. It was proposed that such process might help to explain the presence of methane in martian atmosphere and also may have additionally produced habitable, subsurface settings of potential astrobiological relevance. However, it remains unclear whether sedimentary volcanism on Earth and Mars share genetic similarities; hence whether methane, or other gases were released on Mars during this process. The aim of this review is to summarize the current knowledge about mud-volcano-like structures on Mars, address the critical aspects of this process, identify key open questions, and point to areas where further research is needed to understand this phenomenon and its importance for the red planet’s geological evolution. We show here that after several decades of exploration, the amount of evidence supporting a martian sedimentary volcanism scenario has increased significantly, but as critical ground truth is still lacking, alternative explanations cannot always be ruled out. We also highlight that the lower gravity and temperatures on Mars compared to Earth control the dynamics of clastic eruptions as well as surface emplacement and resulting morphologies of erupted material. This implies that shapes and triggering mechanisms of mud-volcano-like structures may be different from those observed on Earth. Therefore comparative studies should be done with caution. To provide a better understanding of the significance of these abundant features on Mars, we argue for follow-up studies targeting putative sedimentary volcanic features identified on the planet’s surface and, if possible, for in situ investigations by landed missions such as that currently in progress by the Zhurong rover.

Petr Brož et al.

Status: open (until 03 Mar 2023)

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Petr Brož et al.

Petr Brož et al.

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Short summary
The aim of this review is to summarize the current knowledge about mud-volcano-like structures on Mars, address the critical aspects of process of sedimentary volcanism, identify key open questions, and point to areas where further research is needed to understand this phenomenon and its importance for the red planet’s geological evolution.