Tiny Volcanoes Are a Big Deal on Mars

Life might be the focus of Mars exploration today, but our planetary neighbor is the home to the largest volcanoes in the solar system. Olympus Mons towers 23 kilometers (75,000 feet) over the surrounding landscape, and its neighbors, the Tharsis Montes (Arsia Mons, Pavonis Mons, and Ascraeus Mons), stand out as a line of volcanic giants. These are the most prominent volcanic features on the planet, but a new study suggests the thousands of small volcanoes that litter the landscape are just as important to the volcanic history of Mars.

Small volcanoes are surprisingly important for understanding the volcanic history of a planet. On Earth, cinder cones and fissure vents are found all over volcanic terranes and, in many locations,…

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