Scroll down to read this post.


Please consider supporting my work here at Behind The Black by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Slip-sliding away – on Mars

Faults on Mars
Click for full image.

Today’s cool Martian image, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, comes from the camera on Mars Odyssey and was taken on May 18, 2020. It shows an area on Mars where faults and cracks in the ground have caused criss-crossing depressions. In this particular case we can see that the north-south trending fissure at some point got cut in half by east-west trending fault, its northern and southern halves thus getting shifted sideways from each other. For scale the straight section of the northern canyon is about five miles long, with the sideways shift about a mile in length.

As the caption notes, “With time and erosion this region of fault blocks will become chaos terrain,” regions of canyons often cutting at right angles to each other with flat-topped mesas and buttes in between.

Now for the mystery.

Unnamed crater in Margaritifer Terra
Click here and here for the full images.

The wider photo to the right, also rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, was created from two images taken by the context camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and shows that the fissures in the first image above are actually in the floor of an unnamed crater about 26 miles in diameter, located in a region of the cratered southern highlands dubbed Margaritifer Terra and found just to the east of outlet of Valles Marineris.

Intuitively we immediately assume that when the impact occurred it shattered the underlying bedrock, creating the faults in the crater’s floor where erosion is now creating these depressions. Then at some point the east-west fault shifted, breaking the north-south fault in half.

As is always the case in science, however, assuming anything is dangerous. Note the rim of the crater. It is not shifted sideways as is the north-south fissure. This means that the shifting of these faults had to have occurred prior to the impact, which also means these faults, and the shift, already existed when the impact took place. They reveal a far earlier geological epoch that the impact appears to have subsequently exposed.

Note too how the depressions seem to meander like angular tributaries down from the crater’s rim. At some point something, either water or ice, flowed downward here, naturally favoring the low spots caused by the faults. The problem is that this crater is at 18 degrees south latitude, too close to the equator. At this latitude scientists have found little evidence of ice or water, with the terrain dry. The wider image illustrates this, the ground appearing to be shattered, dry and rocky.

Thus this meandering drainage pattern also provides evidence of an earlier geological epoch.

All together this photograph suggests the following history. First, events occurred that caused the massive faulting. Later, another event — either instantaneous or slowly over time — caused the major sideways shift of the fault system. During this same time period erosion was widening the cracks where the faults were located. Then, erosion was replaced with deposition, and the fault system became buried.

Next, this spot was hit by a bolide which dug out the crater and exposed the fault system, at a time when this region was wetter and ice or water would flow down from the interior rim to the center of the crater, using that fault system for its drainage path.

Finally, the region dried out, the water/ice disappeared, and the floor of this crater and its faults were left to erode by wind, and wind only.

Nice theory, but I must always warn my readers that I am not a planetary geologist, I only play one on this website. I might make educated guesses, but my education is limited, and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I myself might be making many wrong assumptions about this geology.

It is fun, however, to wonder at the process that caused the floor of this crater to shift sideways by about a mile.


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.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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.