Near the huge Martian volcano Olympus Mons may bear evidence of recent plate tectonic activity on Mars, new research suggests. The many ridges and scarps on the rumpled apron of land north and west of Olympus Mons are likely signs of tectonic thrusting, according to the study. This activity could be very recent — within the last 250,000 years or so. We know that Earth’s surface has been shaped over the eons by giant crustal plates that pull apart, smash together and dive under one another. An Yin (of UCLA) thinks he has found solid evidence that plate tectonics carved out many of the landforms we now see on Mars, and may still be shaping the planet today. If true, Mars would be a better candidate for extraterrestrial life than scientists have thought. Plate tectonics could help replenish nutrients needed for life, for example, bringing carbon and other substances from the Martian interior up to the surface. Yin thinks Martian plates were moving and grinding perhaps within the last 250,000 years, and even may be at it today.
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