Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rock of ages: Clues about Mars evolution revealed

Date:
April 16, 2010
Source:
University of Houston
Summary:
Through the study of a popular Martian meteorite's age, researchers have made significant discoveries about the timeline of volcanic activity on Mars. Their data showed that the true age of the famous Martian meteorite ALH84001 is about 400 million years younger than earlier age estimates.

Tom Lapen and his colleagues' data showed that the true age of ALH84001 is about 400 million years younger than earlier age estimates.
Credit: Thomas Campbell

Through the study of a popular Martian meteorite's age, a University of Houston professor and his team have made significant discoveries about the timeline of volcanic activity on Mars.

Thomas Lapen, assistant professor of geosciences at UH, describes his team's findings in a paper titled "A Younger Age for ALH84001 and its Geochemical Link to Shergottite Sources in Mars," appearing April 16 in Science, the world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news and commentary.

ALH84001 is a thoroughly studied, well-known Martian meteorite. This stone is unique among Mars rocks available for study on Earth, since its formation age is more than 2.5 billion years older than any other recognized Martian meteorite, giving scientists the only sample of material formed early in Mars' history. Data from this rock may help geologists better understand, through analogy, the processes of early Earth evolution.

Lapen and his colleagues' data showed that the true age of this meteorite is 4.091 billion years old, about 400 million years younger than earlier age estimates. They concluded that this stone formed during an important time when Mars was wet and had a magnetic field, conditions that are favorable for the development of simple life. This finding precludes ALH84001 from being a remnant of primordial Martian crust, as well as confirming that volcanic activity was ongoing in Mars over much of its history.

"This research helps us better refine the history of Mars," Lapen said. "This has huge ramifications for our understanding of volcanic processes active in Mars and for the nature of deeper portions of the planet that are sources of magmas that produced the largest volcanoes in the solar system. These data also are used to refine models of initial planetary formation and early evolution."

With the crystallization age and formation of this rock being debated since its discovery in 1984, Lapen and his team seized an opportunity to better refine the early history of Mars. With samples provided by the NASA Antarctic meteorite curator and the meteorite working group, the researchers used a relatively new method that has never been applied to this stone -- lutetium-hafnium isotope analysis.

"We studied variations in isotopic compositions of minerals to determine the age and sources of magmas that produced these rocks," Lapen said. "We uncovered evidence that the volcanic systems in Mars were likely active more than four billion years. This connection allows the possibility that regions with the largest volcanoes in the solar system perhaps host some of the longest-lived volcanic systems in the solar system."

In addition to Lapen, the team includes Alan Brandon, an associate professor in UH's department of earth and atmospheric sciences, and their two post-doctoral researchers Minako Righter and John Shafer. Other collaborators were Brian Beard from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NASA Astrobiology Institute, Vinciane Debaille from the University of Bruxelles and Anne Peslier, a research scientist at Jacobs Technology working at NASA Johnson Space Center.

The project was supported by NASA Cosmochemistry grants to Lapen and Brandon, a NASA Astrobiology grant to Beard and a grant from UH's own Institute for Space Systems Operations to Lapen. The Belgian Fund for Scientific Research provides current financial support to Debaille. The research took about 15 months.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Houston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. J. Lapen, M. Righter, A. D. Brandon, V. Debaille, B. L. Beard, J. T. Shafer, and A. H. Peslier. A Younger Age for ALH84001 and Its Geochemical Link to Shergottite Sources in Mars. Science, 2010; 328 (5976): 347-351 DOI: 10.1126/science.1185395

Cite This Page:

University of Houston. "Rock of ages: Clues about Mars evolution revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415141118.htm>.
University of Houston. (2010, April 16). Rock of ages: Clues about Mars evolution revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415141118.htm
University of Houston. "Rock of ages: Clues about Mars evolution revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415141118.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) The B612 Foundation says asteroids strike Earth much more often than previously thought, and are hoping to build an early warning system. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA administrator Charles Bolden, speaking at the 'Human to Mars Summit' in Washington, says that learning more about the Red Planet can help answer the 'fundamental question' of 'life beyond Earth'. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA is inviting all social media users to take a selfie of themselves alongside nature and to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Google Plus with the hashtag #globalselfie. NASA's goal is to crowd-source a collection of snapshots of the earth, ground-up, that will be used to create one "unique mosaic of the Blue Marble." This image will be available to all in May. Since this is probably one of the few times posting a selfie to Twitter won't be embarrassing, we suggest you give it a go for a good cause. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 20, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft makes a scheduled Easter Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins