It is one of Earth’s newest landforms and it could just tell us where to look for evidence of life on Mars.
The tongue-twisting volcanic island of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai exploded out of the Pacific Ocean in 2015, and its shape has been evolving ever since as it has been lashed and bashed by waves.
Scientists are watching this slow erosion very closely, reports BBC. They think they see the remnants of many such water-birthed islands on the Red Planet.
If that is true, it is really intriguing. On Earth, we know that wherever you get submarine volcanic processes, you also very often get conditions that support microbial communities.
What the researchers see occurring at Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai (HTHH) therefore may be a kind of template to help them understand better the water environment on early Mars and, by extension, whether the conditions might also have been favourable for the initiation of simple life.