Recurrence rate and magma effusion rate for the latest volcanism on Arsia Mons, Mars

a,bJacob A. Richardson, aJames A. Wilson, aCharles B. Connor, bJacob E. Bleacher, Koji Kiyosugic
Earth and Planetary Science Letters (in Press) Link to Article []

aSchool of Geosciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA
bPlanetary Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Laboratory, Code 698, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
cOrganization for Advanced and Integrated Research, Kobe University, 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-8501, Japan
Copyright Elsevier

Magmatism and volcanism have evolved the Martian lithosphere, surface, and climate throughout the history of Mars. Constraining the rates of magma generation and timing of volcanism on the surface clarifies the ways in which magma and volcanic activity have shaped these Martian systems. The ages of lava flows on other planets are often estimated using impact crater counts, assuming that the number and size-distribution of impact craters per unit area reflect the time the lava flow has been on the surface and exposed to potential impacts. Here we show that impact crater age model uncertainty is reduced by adding stratigraphic information observed at locations where neighboring lavas abut each other, and demonstrate the significance of this reduction in age uncertainty for understanding the history of a volcanic field comprising 29 vents in the 110-km-diameter caldera of Arsia Mons, Mars. Each vent within this caldera produced lava flows several to tens of kilometers in length; these vents are likely among the youngest on Mars, since no impact craters in their lava flows are larger than 1 km in diameter. First, we modeled the age of each vent with impact crater counts performed on their corresponding lava flows and found very large age uncertainties for the ages of individual vents, often spanning the estimated age for the entire volcanic field. The age model derived from impact crater counts alone is broad and unimodal, with estimated peak activity in the field around 130 Ma. Next we applied our volcano event age model (VEAM), which uses a directed graph of stratigraphic relationships and random sampling of the impact crater age determinations to create alternative age models. Monte Carlo simulation was used to create 10,000 possible vent age sets. The recurrence rate of volcanism is calculated for each possible age set, and these rates are combined to calculate the median recurrence rate of all simulations. Applying this approach to the 29 volcanic vents, volcanism likely began around 200–300 Ma then first peaked around 150 Ma, with an average production rate of 0.4 vents per Myr. The recurrence rate estimated including stratigraphic data is distinctly bimodal, with a second, lower peak in activity around 100 Ma. Volcanism then waned until the final vents were produced 10–90 Ma. Based on this model, volume flux is also bimodal, reached a peak rate of 1–8 km3 Myr−1by 150 Ma and remained above half this rate until about 90 Ma, after which the volume flux diminished greatly. The onset of effusive volcanism from 200–150 Ma might be due to a transition of volcanic style away from explosive volcanism that emplaced tephra on the western flank of Arsia Mons, while the waning of volcanism after the 150 Ma peak might represent a larger-scale diminishing of volcanic activity at Arsia Mons related to the emplacement of flank apron lavas.


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