When compared to the previous explanations that attempt to explain the long-lived internal heat engine of Tharsis, Mars (e.g., >3 Ga), the Tharsis Superplume hypothesis provides a cohesive explanation for the evolution of the magmatic complex and forms a sound basis for further productive inquiry. Contributors to its formation and long-term, pulsating evolution may include: (1) extremely ancient plate tectonism (Baker et al., this volume), (2) an extremely ancient giant impact in the Arabia Terra region, which is located nearly antipodal to the superplume (Dohm et al., 2004), and (3) later smaller impacts (e.g., Hellas and Isidis) when compared to the putative Arabia impact with a primary basin estimated to be at least 3000 km in diameter. The extensive geological and paleohydrological records of the Tharsis Superplume presented here, which includes extremely long-lived magma and liquid and frozen water interactions in the subsurface and the surface, have tremendous implications concerning future missions to Mars that will unfold the potential astrobiological information that awaits discovery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)