The findings suggest a much more geologically complex Mars than previously believed, researchers say. (Agencies)
Large amounts of a mineral found in granite, known as feldspar, were found in an ancient Martian volcano. Further, minerals that are common in basalts that are rich in iron and magnesium, ubiquitous on Mars, are nearly completely absent at this location.
The location of the feldspar also provides an explanation for how granite could have formed on Mars. Granite, or its eruptive equivalent, rhyolite, is often found on Earth in tectonically active regions such as subduction zones.
This is unlikely on Mars, but the research team concluded that prolonged magmatic activity on Mars can also produce these compositions on large scales.
"We're providing the most compelling evidence to date that Mars has granitic rocks," said James Wray, from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the study's lead author.
For years Mars was considered geologically simplistic, consisting mostly of one kind of rock, in contrast to the diverse geology of Earth. The new study bolsters the evidence for granite on Mars by using remote sensing techniques with infrared spectroscopy to survey a large volcano on Mars that was active for billions of years.
The volcano is dust-free, making it ideal for the study. Inside, the research team found rich deposits of feldspar, which came as a surprise.
"Using the kind of infrared spectroscopic technique we were using, you shouldn't really be able to detect feldspar minerals, unless there's really, really a lot of feldspar and very little of the dark minerals that you get in basalt," Wray said.
The location of the feldspar and absence of dark minerals inside the ancient volcano provides an explanation for how granite could form on Mars.
While the magma slowly cools in the subsurface, low density melt separates from dense crystals in a process called fractionation. The cycle is repeated over and over for millennia until granite is formed.
This process could happen inside of a volcano that is active over a long period of time, according to the computer simulations run in collaboration with Josef Dufek, who is also an associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech.
Being bored just became interesting, with scientists identifying a new type of boredom to describe this emotion.
Researchers identified the new type of tedium as 'apathetic boredom', an especially unpleasant form of the emotion that resembles learned helplessness or depression. The study is among the first to quantifiably investigate different types of boredom.
The study builds on preliminary research done by Dr Thomas Goetz of the University of Konstanz and colleague Anne Frenzel in 2006 in which they differentiated between four types of boredom according to the levels of arousal (ranging from calm to fidgety) and how positive or negative boredom is experienced (so-called valence).
These were indifferent boredom (relaxed, withdrawn, indifferent), calibrating boredom (uncertain, receptive to change/distraction), searching boredom (restless, active pursuit of change/distraction) and reactant boredom (high reactant, motivated to leave a situation for specific alternatives).
The researchers have now identified another boredom subtype, namely apathetic boredom that resembles learned helplessness or depression. It is associated with low arousal levels and high levels of aversion.
Goetz and researchers conducted two real-time experience studies over two weeks among 63 German university students and 80 German high school learners.
Participants had to complete digital questionnaires through the course of a day on a Personal Digital Assistant device about their activities and experiences.
Because of the assumed link between boredom and depression, the research group found it alarming that apathetic boredom was reported relatively frequently by 36 percent of the high school students sampled.
The findings showed that the five boredom types do not just depend on the intensity of the boredom being felt, but mainly on the real-life situation in which it is experienced.
Another interesting realization is that people do not just randomly experience the different boredom types over time, but that they tend to experience one type.
"We therefore speculate that experiencing specific boredom types might, to some degree, be due to personality-specific dispositions," said Goetz.
The findings suggest a much more geologically complex Mars than previously believed, researchers say.