A 75-mile-wide Mars crater can & # 39; ground zero & # 39; are for a MEGA TSUNAMI that reformed the red planet landscape more than 3 billion years ago
- Researchers say that a 75-mile-wide Lomonosov crater has signs of a marine impact
- The wide, shallow edge suggests that there was a shallow ocean where the asteroid struck
- Timing and functions correspond to deposits in a region called Thumbprint Terrain
An asteroid impact more than three billion years ago may have produced a "mega-tsunami" on the surface of Mars well after the height of its watery past.
A new study analyzing a handful of large impact craters in the northern plains of the red planet has identified countless signs of a collision long ago that probably had an ocean.
The resulting tsunami would have surfaced hundreds of feet high and carved out much of the surrounding landscape.
Researchers have determined what ground zero could be, revealing how the 75-mile-wide Lomonosov crater was possibly the location of a catastrophic asteroid-induced wave, giving rise to the unique features of an area known as the Thumbnail Terrain.
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The team looked at craters based on diameter, location and geomorphic characteristics that may be consistent with a mega-tsunami and found that the Lomonosov crater meets the description. This crater is approximately 120 kilometers wide and has a wide, shallow edge
In the study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research Planets, a team led by researchers from the French National Center for Scientific Research, has investigated 10 impact craters located north of the Arabia Terra region.
It is here that scientists suspect that a tsunami played an important role in shaping the landscape, supported by unusual deposits that form the so-called thumbprint terrain.
After following the orientation of the deposits, the team says the evidence refers to the northern plains of Mars.
The team looked at craters based on diameter, location and geomorphic characteristics that may be consistent with a mega-tsunami and found that the Lomonosov crater meets the description.
This crater is approximately 120 kilometers wide and has a wide, shallow edge.
According to the researchers, this may be due to "a collision in a shallow ocean and subsequent erosion of the collapsing temporary water hole."
The crater is estimated to be around 3 billion years old, just like the thumbprint site, the researchers note.
"The likely marine formation of the Lomonosov crater and the apparent similarity in its time to that of the Thumbprint Terrain unit (~ 3 Ga) strongly suggests that it was the source crater of the tsunami," the team writes.
A new study analyzing a handful of large impact craters in the northern plains of the red planet has identified countless signs of a collision long ago that probably had an ocean. The resulting tsunami would carve out the landscape. Artist & # 39; s impression shown
The findings have implications for our understanding of the history of Mars as a wet planet.
Although the red planet was thought to be home to water, including an ocean, prior to 3.8 billion years ago, the study suggests that there were still large bodies of water on the surface as recently as 3 billion years ago.
With data from current and upcoming missions to study the red planet, including Mars Express from ESA, scientists hope to get a clearer timeline of the presence of water.
WAS MARS EVER AT HOME WITH LIQUID WATER?
Proof of water on Mars dates from the Mariner 9 mission, which arrived in 1971. It revealed clues of water erosion in river beds and canyons as well as weather fronts and fog.
Viking tracks that followed caused a revolution in our ideas about water on Mars by showing how floods broke through dams and cut deep valleys.
Mars is currently in the middle of an ice age, and before this study, scientists believed that liquid water could not exist on the surface.
In June 2013, Curiosity found powerful evidence that water that was good enough to drink once flowed on Mars.
In September of the same year, the first scoop of soil analyzed by Curiosity revealed that fine materials on the surface of the planet contained two percent by weight of water.
In 2017, scientists provided the best estimates for water on Mars, claiming it once had more liquid H2O than the Arctic Ocean – and the planet has preserved these oceans for over 1.5 billion years.
The findings suggest that there was enough time and water for Mars to thrive, but over the past 3.7 billion years the red planet has lost 87 percent of its water – leaving it bare and dry.
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