By Peter Fawdon, Open University
My interest in volcanology is about exploration. I am motivated to explore and explain places that we have never been to, and to better understand our natural history. Volcanism on Mars is interesting because the entire cooling history of the planet is recorded on the surface.
On Mars it is possible to see the plan-form structure of Large Igneous Provinces (LIP’s) throughout time in a way that is not possible on Earth due to ongoing resurfacing by dissection, erosion and plate tectonics. However on Mars, where these processes are absent, there is no cross-section information and we cannot study the inner workings of magmatic systems in a way that it is possible to on Earth.
Consequently, planetary volcanism complements our understanding of terrestrial Magmatism. In my PhD I used remote sensing mapping to study the volcanic evolution of Syrtis Major Planum, a 3.5 Ga Martian LIP. This told us about magmatism and its interaction with the subsurface on Mars, and how that changed over the life span of the volcano.
Peter Fawdon was a PhD student at The Open University (Peter.email@example.com), supervised by Matt Balme, Charlotte Vye-Brown and Dave Rothery. He is now a Postdoc, also at the OU, working on the characterisation of landing sites for the European Space Agency ExoMars rover set to launch in 2020. To find out more and keep up to date with this exciting work follow Peter @DrPFawdon @PlanetEnviroOU.