Diverse volcanism and crustal recycling on early Mars

Joseph R. Michalski, A. Deanne Rogers, Christopher S. Edwards, Aster Cowart, Long Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The relatively well-preserved ancient crust of Mars provides a natural window into early planetary evolution not available on Earth due to sustained tectonic recycling and erosion on this planet. Mars has generally been considered a one-plate basaltic planet, though recent evidence suggests magmatic evolution resulting in felsic crust might have occurred sporadically. Here we show multiple lines of evidence for diverse volcanism and complex volcanotectonics in the southern highlands of Mars within and around the ∼3.5–4-billion-year-old Eridania basin. Infrared remote sensing reveals bimodal volcanism consisting of olivine-bearing basalts and voluminous, widespread dacitic (64–69% SiO2, and possibly higher) volcanic deposits within a region of high crustal potassium. The diverse igneous compositions are associated with an extraordinary number and morphological range of volcanic structures, including domes, stratovolcanoes, calderas and pyroclastic shields occurring proximal to large (hundreds of kilometres in diametre) basins within the Eridania region. The 2–4 km-deep topographically concave-up basins have crustal thicknesses 10–20 km thinner than adjacent terrain and disrupt patterns of deeply seated remnant crustal magnetism. The Eridania basins may represent ancient episodes of crustal recycling via lithospheric delamination in which altered, hydrated volcanic materials were cycled downward and melted resulting in magmatic evolution analogous to pre-plate tectonic processes on the Archaean Earth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-462
Number of pages7
JournalNature Astronomy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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