Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Landslides on the edge of Mars’ youngest lava field

Landslides on the edge of Mars' youngest lava field
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped to post here, was taken by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on September 28, 2020. It shows several indentations in a north-south cliff face, with debris apparently falling down into a flat plain to the east.

The scientific history of this picture is very interesting. The first photo of these landslides was taken in 2006 and was titled, “Landslides on Flat Topography in Elysium Planitia”. The second, taken a few months later in 2007 to produce a stereoscopic view, was labeled “Landslides Along Shoreline in Elysium Planitia.” This most recent 2020 image is merely labeled “Landslides in Elysium Planitia.”

Is the flat terrain to the west a seabed to an ancient ocean, as suggested by the title for the 2007 image, with these landslides erosion caused in the far past by water lapping up against these cliffs?

Overview map #1

Overview map showing Athabasca lava field extent

More recent research tells us no. The two overview maps to the right provides the explanation. The first shows the nearby important geology surrounding this photo, indicated by the white rectangle near the center bottom. The smaller shield volcano Albor Tholus is about 400 miles to the north. Much closer to the east however is Athabasca Valles, which some scientists believe [pdf] is the source for the youngest lava flood plain on Mars. Athabasca Valles is thought to have been active around 600 million years ago, during which it laid down a flood plain about the size of Great Britain in only a matter of weeks.

The second overview map takes a wider view, and shows the estimated extent of the Athabasca lava flood plain. That flow pushed up against the eastern flanks of this lonely mountain, pressing against the cliff where the landslides are shown in the above photo.

In comparing the 2020 image with the 2006 image I can find no obvious changes. At higher resolutions there certainly could be evidence of small landslides, but the general features appear the same.

Could these landslides date from 600 million years ago, when Athabasca Valles was active and emitting lava? I have no idea, but my guess is no. More likely the slides indicate subsequent erosion by wind and the seasonal temperature cycles causing breakage in the rocks over time.

What today’s cool image does show us is a real shoreline, but not of a lake or ocean but of a lava flood plain now frozen for more than a half billion years.


I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.

Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Your support is even more essential to me because I not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.


Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *