Weird Martian crater?

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Weird crater on Mars

Time for another cool image! The image on the left, cropped to post here, was taken by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on May 31, 2018, and shows a very strange layered mesa sitting in what looks like a crater or collapse feature. If you click on the image you can see the entire picture.

The location of this image is out in the middle of the vast northern plains of Mars. This region has few pronounced features, and generally sits at a lower elevation to the rest of Mars. It is suspected by some scientists that an intermittent ocean was once here, and that we are looking at the floor of a now dry sea.

This image was part of the July image release from MRO, and thus included no caption. They simply refer to it as a layered feature. It sits about a half mile (about 800 meters) to the west of a rough and indistinct cliff that drops down into an area of rougher terrain. This suggests that if this was formed by an impact, it cut down into that lower rougher layer, and since the impact there has been some upwelling from below creating the layered mesa.

I would not take my hypothesis very seriously, however. This feature could have nothing to do with an impact. It might also have been a mesa that now sits in a collapsed sinkhole. Or not. I could come up with many theories, all of which are likely wrong. What I do see here is something that geologically is very strange and baffling.



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