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Pavonis Mons

Volcano on Mars

The central mountain of a chain of three extinct volcanoes that are together known as the Tharsis Montes, running from the southwest to the northeast across the volcanic region of Tharsis in Mars' northern hemisphere. Pavonis Mons is the smallest of these three mountainous features, though with a height of 14km and a diameter of 375km, it is still larger by far than any comparable structure on Earth.

Pavonis Mons is a shield volcano, formed by lava spreading out from its central caldera across the surface of Mars to form a shape like a wide, shallow dome. Though it originated through the ancient lava flows that were once common in this part of Mars, this mountain was reshaped by the much colder climate later in Mars' history. Glaciers formed on the sides of Pavonis Mons that shaped the mountain, and though these glaciers have now largely vanished, there is some evidence that a certain amount of glacial activity continues even now.

The ancient glaciers of Pavonis Mons spread deposits and deformations extending out from the base of the mountain. Especially to the north, these deposits form a wide, fan-shaped structure somewhat like a peacock's tail, perhaps explaining the name Pavonis Mons, which means 'Peacock Mountain'.


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