Impact craters help characterize the age of a planetary surface, because they accumulate with time. They also provide useful constraints on the importance of surface erosion, as such processes will preferentially remove the smaller craters. Earlier studies of martian crater populations revealed that erosion and dust deposition are important processes on Mars. They disagreed, however, on the age of the youngest volcanism. These earlier studies were limited by image resolution to craters larger than a few hundred metres in diameter. Here we report an analysis, using new images obtained by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, of crater populations that extend the size distribution down to about 16 m. Our results indicate a wide range of surface ages, with one region-lava flows within the Arsia Mons calderathat we estimate to be no older than 40-100 million years. We suggest that volcanism is a continuing process on Mars.
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Evidence for recent volcanism on mars from crater counts