Taking the pulse of Mars via dating of a plume-fed volcano

Benjamin E. Cohen*, Darren F. Mark, William S. Cassata, Martin R. Lee, Tim Tomkinson, Caroline L. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
218 Downloads (Pure)


Mars hosts the solar system's largest volcanoes. Although their size and impact crater density indicate continued activity over billions of years, their formation rates are poorly understood. Here we quantify the growth rate of a Martian volcano by 40Ar/39Ar and cosmogenic exposure dating of six nakhlites, meteorites that were ejected from Mars by a single impact event at 10.7 ± 0.8 Ma (2σ). We find that the nakhlites sample a layered volcanic sequence with at least four discrete eruptive events spanning 93 ± 12 Ma (1416 ± 7 Ma to 1322 ± 10 Ma (2σ)). A non-radiogenic trapped 40Ar/36Ar value of 1511 ± 74 (2σ) provides a precise and robust constraint for the mid-Amazonian Martian atmosphere. Our data show that the nakhlite-source volcano grew at a rate of ca. 0.4-0.7 m Ma-1-three orders of magnitude slower than comparable volcanoes on Earth, and necessitating that Mars was far more volcanically active earlier in its history.

Original languageEnglish
Article number640
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2017


  • Volcanology
  • Inner planets


Dive into the research topics of 'Taking the pulse of Mars via dating of a plume-fed volcano'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this