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Lava land on Mars

Lava land on Mars
Click for original image.

Cool image time! The picture to the right, cropped, reduced, and sharpened to post here, was taken on March 2, 2024 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows what the scientists label as “platy fractures.”

The ridges likely align with cracks that developed over time on this lava field, which then formed the ridges when magma oozed up from below. It is also possible that these events were closely linked, that the pressure from the magma below cracked this lava field, with the magma immediately oozing out. Because the pressure was evenly applied across the whole surface, it caused a network of cracks and plates, not a single vent or caldera. The even distribution of the pressure also caused only a small amount of lava to leak out to form the ridges.

Overview map

The red dot on the overview map and in the inset mark the location of these ridges, in the center of a very large flood lava field just north of the vast ash deposit dubbed the Medusae Fossae Formation. This region I dub volcano country, as almost every feature of the landscape of Amazonis Planitia between Elysium Mons and Olympus Mons is the result of some form of volcanic process. Mostly this ground is covered by immense fields of flood lava, which is why there are so few impact craters. That impact history has been buried by subsequent volcanic activity that occurred one to three billion years ago.

The particular flood lava field where these ridges sit is about 70 miles by 200 miles in size. Though researchers might have located the main source of this lava, it is not easily evident from my cursory inspection. The flood lava could also might have come from muliple events from multiple sources.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

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