04/26/2012 - 15:37

High-resolution photos of lava flows on Mars reveal coiling spiral patterns that resemble snail or nautilus shells. Such patterns have been found in a few locations on Earth, but never before on Mars. The discovery, made by Arizona State University graduate student Andrew Ryan, is announced in a paper published April 27, 2012, in the scientific journal Science.

12/15/2011 - 14:15

A team of scientists from Oregon has collected microbes from ice within a lava tube in the Cascade Mountains and found that they thrive in cold, Mars-like conditions. The microbes tolerate temperatures near freezing and low levels of oxygen, and they can grow in the absence of organic food. Under these conditions their metabolism is driven by the oxidation of iron from olivine, a common volcanic mineral found in the rocks of the lava tube. These factors make the microbes capable of living in the subsurface of Mars and other planetary bodies, the scientists say.

07/28/2011 - 06:10

Geological history has periodically featured giant lava eruptions that coat large swaths of land or ocean floor with basaltic lava, which hardens into rock formations called flood basalt. New research from Matthew Jackson and Richard Carlson proposes that the remnants of six of the largest volcanic events of the past 250 million years contain traces of the ancient Earth's primitive mantle—which existed before the largely differentiated mantle of today—offering clues to the geochemical history of the planet. Their work is published online today by Nature.