In my humble opinion, your potential in research is HUGE.
Regardless what comes out from this thread, in my opinion you should
stick on this subject matter, because it's for you, and you are able to
give a lot to it.
What we know for sure, so far, about Apollinaris Patera, is that both
signs of explosive and effusive origins are clearly visible, while you
are absolutely right about some points: some processes, indeed, have
changed at least partially the general appearance, hiding
of the classic "fingerprints" of its formation. But this can be said
just regarding its external appearance. I mean, if all that we'd have
would have been images, then there would have been room for doubts. But photos are one of the many documentations that we have about it: so
let's stick on a photo for a while. Wikipedia is not a reliable source
unless it quotes, refers or mentions a reliable source: in this case,
wiki reports what scientists think about this formation.
What we have doubts about, is the possible combination of both causes:
in facts, NO ONE is able top say if explosions took place before, during or after the effusional event.
The only way to know it would be to roll back the time.
Mars' volcanic structures' ages are estimated to be around 3 billion
years: this means that all that has happened in the meantime, made
important changes to their appearance, so to base our assessments on
their appearance *may* drive us to the wrong direction.
That said, there are some valid points you made: the best way to look
at some formation on Mars, is to look at all available data: in your
fine research, in my humble opinion, you omitted to mention other
measurements that have been made:
for example a MOLA image gives to us an idea about its eight:
one cant get the appearance of a formation simply looking at a top-view
image. This is what we are looking at: the caldera, despite seen from
the top looks to be flat, is still all there, and its shape is
compatible with the geological formation of a volcano: it IS what i
would expect from a volcano. The volcano shape is still there, but it
can't be observed correctly by an orbiter image: i would call it
optical illusion. The fact that something looks to be flat does NOT
mean that it is actually flat.
One of the things that got you confused, in my opinion, is that
Apollinaris Patera is NOT in line with the most noticeable volcanic
chains: this makes the formation anomalous but not unexplainable.
It would be a story to long to be told right now.
Younger materials changed its appearance, in a way that even a serious
researcher may have some doubts: in this case, your doubts are rational
and well explained, but my take is that this is a volcanic formation
that has changed its general appearance during 3 billions years.