If marsquakes do indeed take place, said the scientists who analyzed the high-resolution images, our nearest planetary neighbor may still have active volcanism, which could help create conditions for liquid water.
With High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imagery, the research team examined boulders along a fault system known as Cerberus Fossae, which cuts across a very young (few million years old) lava surface on Mars. By analyzing boulders that toppled from a martian cliff, some of which left trails in the coarse-grained soils, and comparing the patterns of dislodged rocks to such patterns caused by quakes on Earth, the scientists determined the rocks fell because of seismic activity. The martian patterns were not consistent with how boulders would scatter if they were deposited as ice melted, another means by which rocks are dispersed on Mars.
Gerald Roberts, an earthquake geologist with Birkbeck, an institution of the University of London, who led the study, said that the images of Mars included boulders that ranged from two to 20 meters (6.5 to 65 feet) in diameter, which had fallen in avalanches from cliffs. The size and number of boulders decreased over a radius of 100 kilometers (62 miles) centered at a point along the Cerberus Fossae faults.
"This is consistent with the hypothesis that boulders had been mobilized by ground-shaking, and that the severity of the ground-shaking decreased away from the epicenters of marsquakes," Roberts said.
The study, by Roberts and his colleagues, will be published Thursday in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, a publication of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).The team compared the pattern of boulder falls, and faulting of the martian surface, with those seen after a 2009 earthquake near L'Aquila, in central Italy. In that event, boulder falls occurred up to approximately 50 km (31 miles) from the epicenter. Because the area of displaced boulders in the marsscape stretched across an area approximately 200 km (124-
miles) long, the quakes were likely to have had a magnitude greater than 7, the researchers estimated.
By looking at the tracks that the falling boulders had left on the dust-covered martian surface, the team determined that the marsquakes were relatively recent - and certainly within the last few percent of the planet's history - because martian winds had not yet erased the boulder tracks. Trails on Mars can quickly disappear - for instance, tracks left by NASA robotic rovers are erased within a few years by martian winds, whereas other, sheltered tracks stick around longer. It is possible, the scientists concluded, that large-magnitude quake activity is still occurring on Mars.
The existence of marsquakes could be significant in the ongoing search for life on Mars, the researchers stated. If the faults along the Cerberus Fossae region are active, and the quakes are driven by movements of magma related to the nearby volcano, Elysium Mons, the energy provided in the form of heat from the volcanic activity under the surface of Mars could be able to melt ice. The resulting liquid water, they noted, could provide habitats friendly to life.Notes for Journalists
Or, you may order a copy of the final paper by emailing your request to Kate Ramsayer at email@example.com. Please provide your name, the name of your publication, and your phone number.
Neither the paper nor this press release are under embargo.Title:
Brian Matthews: Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom;
Chris Bristow: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom and Hyder Consulting, London, United Kingdom;
Luca Guerrieri: Geological Survey of Italy, ISPRA - High Institute for the Environmental Protection and Research, Rome, Italy;
Joyce Vetterlein: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom.Contact information for the authors:
Kate Ramsayer | American Geophysical Union
Devils Hole: Ancient Traces of Climate History
24.05.2017 | Universität Innsbruck
Supercomputing helps researchers understand Earth's interior
23.05.2017 | University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Event News