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Life in Mars Volcano?

on March 7, 2009
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LiveScience: “Mars Volcano Could Harbor Life” After years and years of searching for life on Mars, scientists have finally found it.

Okay, maybe not; but they seem to think they’re getting “warmer.” Researchers “speculate,” in the words of the LiveScience article, that a Martian volcano may have water and therefore may harbor life.

The scientists believe Olympus Mons could have water inside of it.

The volcano in question is Mars’s huge Olympus Mons, a mountain three times the height of Earth’s Mount Everest. Scientists studying the structure of Olympus Mons believe it might have formed from clay sediments; clay indicates the existence of water at some point; thus, the scientists believe Olympus Mons could have water inside of it.

The scientists then take the speculation to the next level. “This deep reservoir, warmed by geothermal gradients and magmatic heat and protected from adverse surface conditions, would be a favored environment for the development and maintenance of thermophilic organisms,” they write in the journal Geology.

Thus, we once again find layer upon layer of speculation, all driven by the assumption that life can evolve wherever certain precursor ingredients—like water—are found. The scientists speculate on clay inside of Olympus Mons; they speculate whether this clay means water could exist inside of it; they speculate on how life could exist in such an environment (presupposing it evolved). Notice a trend? Yet the speculation earns the sensational headline “Mars Volcano Could Harbor Life.”

Of course, the idea that there has been water—in some form, in some place—on Mars isn’t itself revolutionary. Scientists generally accept the idea of a global flood in Martian history (even while rejecting it on Earth); there also may be water ice just below the Martian surface. But the jump from water to life is the height of evolutionary assumption.


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