At the 55th Conference on Lunar and Planetary Sciences held in The Woodlands, Texas, scientists announced the discovery of a massive volcano and a possible buried ice reservoir in its eastern part. The mountain, located on the planet’s equator and marked by cracks and canyons, allowed the giant volcano to camouflage itself, as reported by

The volcano, named Noctis Mons, is in a severely degraded state due to prolonged erosion. It has been imaged multiple times by orbital spacecraft around Mars, starting with Mariner 9 in 1971, but erosion has rendered it unrecognizable, hiding it in plain sight for decades in one of Mars’ most iconic regions — at the boundary between the region known as the Night Labyrinth and the monumental canyons of Mariner Valley.

The volcano’s height measures 9022 meters, making it the seventh-tallest feature on Mars. For comparison, Earth’s largest dormant volcano stands at only 6893 meters.

Noctis Mons’ identification was made possible by the terrain’s structure. At the centre of the area are remnants of a caldera—a collapsed crater that was once filled with lava. The volcanic deposit area covers an area of about 5 thousand square kilometers.

The size of the volcano and the complexity of the surrounding terrain suggest that it was active for a very long time. Near the base of one side, researchers discovered specific deposits formed when a layer of lava covered a water- and ice-rich surface, indicating the presence of a glacier during the volcano’s active period.

Past volcanic activity in the Noctis Labyrinthus region was indicated by the minerals present there. They formed from volcanic rocks in the presence of water, adding further intrigue and prospects for research.

The study’s authors speculate that residual traces of ice reservoirs may exist beneath the surface. If Noctis Mons has managed to retain internal heat, conditions for supporting life hypothetically could emerge in the depths of Noctis Labyrinthus. Previous studies have shown that Mars retains seismic and geological activity.

Source: The Gaze