Chronology, Eruption Duration, and Atmospheric Contribution of the Martian Volcano Apollinaris Patera

Mark S. Robinson, Peter J. Mouginis-Mark, James R. Zimbelman, Sherman S.C. Wu, Karyn K. Ablin, Annie E. Howington-Kraus

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63 Scopus citations


Geologic mapping, thermal inertia measurements, and an analysis of the color (visual wavelengths) of the martian volcano Apollinaris Patera indicate the existence of two different surface materials, comprising an early, easily eroded edifice, and a more recent, competent fan on the southern flank. A chronology of six major events that is consistent with the present morphology of the volcano has been identified. We propose that large scale explosive activity occurred during the formation of the main edifice and that the distinctive fan on the southern flank appears to have been formed by lavas of low eruptive rate similar to those that form compound pahoehoe flow fields on Earth. A basal escarpment typically 500 m in relief and morphologically similar to the one surrounding Olympus Mons was produced between the formation of the main edifice and the fan, indicating multistage eruptions over a protracted period of time. Contact relations between the volcanic units and the adjacent chaotic material indicate that formation of the chaotic material occurred over an extended period of time and may be related to the volcanic activity that formed Apollinaris Patera. Stereophotogrammetric measurements permit the volume of the volcano to be estimated at 105 km3. From this volume measurement and an inferred eruption rate (1.5 × 10-2 km3 yr-1) we estimate the total eruption duration for the main edifice to be ∼107 yrs. Plausible estimates of the exsolved volatile content of the parent magma imply that greater than 1015 kg of water vapor was released into the atmosphere as a consequence of this activity. This large amount of water vapor as well as other exsolved gases must have had a significant impact on local, and possibly global, climatic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-323
Number of pages23
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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