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 firstname.lastname@example.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:
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
Cause for variability in Arctic sea ice clarified
14.05.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie
Arctic rivers provide fingerprint of carbon release from thawing permafrost
08.05.2019 | Stockholm University
Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.
Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...
'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.
However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...
Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future
When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...
Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells
The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
20.05.2019 | Materials Sciences
20.05.2019 | Life Sciences
20.05.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering