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Sinkholes galore!

Sinkholes galore south of Olympus Mons
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photograph to the left, cropped to post here, was part of the November image dump from the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a wind-swept dusty plain trending downhill to the west that is filled with more than a hundred depressions or sinkholes.

Unlike other pit images I have posted previously, this one is not focused on one particular pit or a string of pits. Instead, what makes it interesting is the large number of pits, scattered across the terrain in a random pattern. Their random distribution suggests that they are unrelated to any specific underground feature, such as a lava tube. Instead, some aspect of the underground geology here is causing the ground to sink at random points.

Below is an overview map showing where this dusty pit-strewn plain is located, indicated by the blue cross.

Overview map

South of the solar system’s largest volcano, Olympus Mons, this region is part of of the transition zone between the Tharsis Bulge where Mars’ giant volcanoes are located, down to northern lowland plains, shown in blue to the west.

I do not know whether these pits formed from volcanic activity or some underground erosion process. At a latitude of only 9 degrees north the presence of abundant underground water is unlikely, though not impossible. Yet, the pits might be very old, formed at a time when Mars’ climate was wetter and the transition zone was a region where liquid water might have intermittently ebbed and flowed across the terrain.

All speculation. I just like the weirdness of this pitted plain.

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Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

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.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

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One comment

  • Lee S

    I remember as a lad my father driving us around the Shropshire/Yorkshire dales, and pointing out the sinkholes as we past them, and also showing me as we were walking across the landscape… Some he would let me gaze into , seemingly descending into the depths of the earth, others just a crater, sometimes filled with rubble…
    Yet others he would warn me to keep away from the edge, presumably as it was unstable…. They call the area “limestone country”, and almost all are caused by the erosion of the more easy dissolved limestone around harder rock.
    Sorry to reiterate what most here know!
    Some terrestrial images show the distinct path of underground water, but images like the above fill my mind with alien processes that could perhaps cause such a random scattering of pits …. If only we can discover WHY in our lifetime…
    https://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/engineeringGeology/shallowGeohazardsAndRisks/sinkholes/home.html
    This link is a good infographic on the causes of these pits here on earth.

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