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A much more active past

As Dr Benjamin Cohen from the University of Glasgow, who led the research, points out, this rate of growth seen 1.4 billion years ago is much too slow to account for giants like Olympus Mons.

He says, 'When we are talking about a volcano that could be upwards of 10 kilometres tall, a crater that excavated only a few tens of metres deep only represents a very small portion of its history.

'For the Martian volcanoes to have grown so large, Mars must have been far more volcanically active in the distant past.'

The data matches that of remote-sensing crater-counting studies of Martian volcanoes, which indicate that volcanism occurred at much lower rates in the recent past, compared to early in the planet's history.

Dr Cohen adds, 'Studying Martian meteorites - including specimens from the Natural History Museum - allows scientists to understand more about the formation and evolution of the largest volcanoes in the solar system.'

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