Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mars rocks indicate relatively recent quakes, volcanism, on Red Planet

20.02.2012
Images of a martian landscape offer evidence that the Red Planet's surface not only can shake like the surface of Earth, but has done so relatively recently.

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
Journalists and public information officers (PIOs) of educational and scientific institutions who have registered with AGU can download a PDF copy of this paper in press by clicking on this link:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2011JE003816

Or, you may order a copy of the final paper by emailing your request to Kate Ramsayer at kramsayer@agu.org. Please provide your name, the name of your publication, and your phone number.

Neither the paper nor this press release are under embargo.

Title:
"Possible evidence of palaeomarsquakes from fallen boulder populations, Cerberus Fossae, Mars"
Authors:
Gerald P. Roberts: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom;

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:
Gerald Roberts, Phone: +44 (0)20 3073 8033, Email: gerald.roberts@ucl.ac.uk
AGU Contact:
Kate Ramsayer
+1 (202) 777-7524
kramsayer@agu.org
Birkbeck, University of London Contact:
Bryony Merritt
+44 (0)20 7380 3133
b.merritt@bbk.ac.uk

Kate Ramsayer | American Geophysical Union
Further information:
http://www.agu.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA eyes Pineapple Express soaking California
24.02.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht 'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field
23.02.2017 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>