Giant asteroid triggers devastating Martian megatsunami, data show

(ORDO NEWS) — Plenty of evidence suggests that Mars was not always the dried-up dust bowl it is today.

In fact, the red planet was once so wet and dirty that a mega tsunami hit its surface. like a watery death. What caused this devastation?

A giant asteroid impact comparable to the Chicxulub impact on Earth 66 million years ago killed the dinosaurs, according to a new study.

Researchers led by planetary scientist Alexis Rodriguez of the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona have discovered a huge impact crater that they say is the most likely source of the mysterious wave.

They named it Paul and located it in an area washed by catastrophic flood erosion that was first discovered in the 1970s. , at what could be the edge of an ancient ocean.

When NASA‘s Viking 1 probe landed on Mars in 1976 near a large flood channel system called the Maya Valles, it found something odd: not the features one would expect from a landscape transformed by a megaflood, but a boulder-strewn plain.

A team of scientists led by Rodriguez determined in a 2016 paper that this was the result of tsunami waves heavily covering the coastline of the ancient Martian ocean.

At the time, they speculate that the two tsunamis were caused by separate collisions 3.4 and 3 billion years ago. Numerical modeling led scientists to Lomonov crater as the source of the later tsunami.

However, the source of the earlier tsunami remained elusive. The northern plains, thought to have once sloshed the Martian ocean, are heavily cratered and difficult to interpret.

Rodriguez and his team painstakingly combed maps of the Martian surface looking for impact craters that could be linked to huge tsunamis.

They stumbled upon Pol, about 900 kilometers (560 miles) northeast of Viking 1’s landing site. site, a crater 110 kilometers in diameter, located about 120 meters (394 feet) below what scientists think would be sea level, in a region called Chrysus Plain.

Based on the rocks around the crater, which had previously been dated to around 3.4 billion years ago, the researchers thought that Pohl might have formed around this time as well.

And its location near flood-eroded surfaces and suspected mega tsunami deposits suggests the crater was formed during a sea strike.

To confirm their suspicions, the researchers ran simulations of the impact, adjusting the parameters of the impactor and the surface it hit. They found that two scenarios fit the observed location.

First, a 9-kilometer (5.6-mile) diameter asteroid hit heavy ground resistance, resulting in a 13 million megaton explosion. Another scenario was a 3 km diameter asteroid that hit the earth’s weak resistance and released 0.5 million megatons of TNT energy.

In simulations, both of these scenarios resulted in the formation of a 110 km diameter crater, releasing a mega tsunami. up to 1500 km from the impact site, which easily covers the area around Maya Valles.

The simulation also matched the boulder-strewn landscape as the ejecta from the impact were carried and deposited by the tsunami, which in the case of a 3 km asteroid was 250 meters high.

“Our simulated impact-induced megatsunami releases closely match the mapped boundaries of older mega tsunami deposits and predict fronts reaching the Viking 1 landing site,” the researchers wrote.

“The location of the site along a high-facing ledge, combined with erosion furrows, confirms the origin of the megatsunami.”

This place is similar to the Chicxulub impact, the researchers say. said.

Both events occurred in a shallow marine environment, created a temporary cavity of the same size in the ground, and (according to simulations) generated a tsunami over 200 meters high.

“Our results,” they write, “allow the salt at the landing site to be of marine origin, necessitating a scientific revision of information from the first in situ measurements on Mars.”

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