It is suggested that the irregular terrain of Thaumasia Planum formed from the solidification of lava ejected by two large Martian volcanoes.
The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), which is on board the Mars Express space probe, has captured a geologically complex region of Mars, allowing scientists to understand how the early formation of the surface of the red planet was, reported the European Space Agency (ESA).
The new sequence of images shows the eastern flank of the Coprates mountain range, which is 900 kilometers long. This set of mountains is located on the great volcanic plateau known as Thaumasia Planum, which is located south of the deep Martian canyons of Melas and Coprates Chasmata.
These two tectonic fault structures are part of the colossal system of canyons called Valles Marineris, considered not only the largest on Mars, but in the solar system, since it measures around 4,000 kilometers long. The topographic map shows the mountain peaks of the Coprates range, which rise up to 4,500 meters above the lowest areas of the plateau.
The researchers suggest that these spikes have changed very little since they originated 4 billion years ago. They also assume that the terrain of this plateau was formed in the early days of Mars by immense basalt lava flows several kilometers thick, which were ejected by the Tharsis and Olympus Mons volcanoes.
However, the enormous mass of volcanoes caused stresses in the rock crust, as well as numerous fractures. As the lava solidified, it created unstable and shifting terrain, which compressed and formed “wrinkled ridges”, in this case, the Coprates mountain range. The ESA scientific group indicated that the changes in the landscape of Thaumasia Planum were also due to the deformation of the Martian crust, which caused the formation of tectonic faults known as Nectaris Fossae.
Magma bubbles formed part of the Martian surface
These surface fractures show up as nearly vertical ‘scars’ in the center of HRSC photographs, and are often filled with light-toned dust or sand. Scholars assume that the Nectaris Fossae are linked to the Valles Marineris system, since they may have formed as a result of crustal elongation due to increased magma bubbles.
In the case of the region’s erosion, it is thought that this occurred some time after the deformation of the Martian crust occurred, 3.8 billion years ago, when water flowed abundantly over the surface of the red planet. The flow dragged material that ended up wearing away the rocks, in addition to causing erosion of the valley network of the Protva Valles dry fluvial system.
However, due to severe erosion, it is difficult to determine the origin of the water, since it seems that it emerged at different heights, so it is thought that it could have filtered through the subterranean layers of Mars.
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