Mars was devastated by an enormous supervolcano eruption that spewed ash into the atmosphere billions of years ago and covered the landscape.

A vast crater on the surface of Mars may have been created by an exploding supervolcano rather than a meteorite impact, new research suggests.

Scientists using data from spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet have found evidence for what they believe is the remnants of an ancient supervolcano that erupted on the Martian surface.

Similar supervolcanoes can be found on Earth underneath Yellowstone National Park, Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Indonesia, and the Canary Islands off the west coast of North Africa. Such an eruption would have drastically altered the climate on Mars by sending huge amounts of ash and gas into the atmosphere.

Data sent back by the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars a year ago, has suggested there was a major catastrophic event , such as a volcanic eruption, that occurred four billion years ago and destroyed the Martian atmosphere.

The newly identified supervolcano, which is thought to have been active in the first billion years of Mars’ 4.5 billion year existence, could be one of a number at the time that caused this change.