What are the geological features of Mars

Plate tectonics on Mars?

Los Angeles (USA) - The Valles Marineris on Mars are connected valleys with a total of 4,000 kilometers in length, 700 kilometers in width and seven kilometers in depth. This makes them the largest canyon in our solar system. High-resolution images of this rift system now indicate plate tectonics, reports the geologist An Yin in the journal "Lithosphere".

The satellite images reveal that the south side of the canyon lies in a fault zone and is shifted to the side. The shift compared to the north side is around 150 kilometers. The fault zone is over 2,000 kilometers long and only 50 kilometers wide, relatively narrow. On Earth, such structures are usually associated with plate tectonics, i.e. with the shifts of the continental plates against each other. The structure of the canyon's fracture zone also suggests plate tectonic activity, according to Yin. He could see signs of tectonic shifts in more than a dozen out of a hundred recordings.

Canyon Valles Marineris

"You cannot see such geological features on any other planet in our solar system except on Earth and Mars," reports Yin. The faults on Mars resemble fracture zones in the Himalayas and California's Death Valley. Mars also has a number of volcanoes that are lined up in a line. According to Yin, this is also a typical result of plate tectonics. The displacement of the plates on Mars is, however, significantly slower compared to the geologically active regions on Earth, since Mars is smaller than Earth. The Valles Marineris are a large rift system that was discovered as early as the 19th century. Back then, these structures were known as channels. The Valles Marineris are about ten times as long as the Grand Canyon, seven times wider and seven times deeper.

While on Earth seven large and some smaller continental plates at their zone boundaries ensure geological activity such as earthquakes and volcanism, Yin suspects only two continental plates on Mars: “The Martian crust is broken and moves horizontally over a long distance, similar to the fault on Dead Sea. ”However, the researcher was unable to find any other major fractures on Mars. The reason that there are only two comparatively slow plates on Mars is due to the small size of our neighboring planet. Mars weighs just over a tenth of the Earth's mass and therefore has significantly less thermal energy inside, which can drive the plate movements.