Tectonic plate movement, which is the main source of Earth’s geologic energy, earthquakes and volcanoes, has been discovered on Mars.
Mars? When one looks at the surface of that planet, evidence of any geologic activity is hard to find. But the largest dead volcano in the Solar System is Olympus Mons and is certainly observable from Mars orbit.
Professor An Yin of the University of California uses Olympus Mons as a basis for his theory that there has been geologic activity on Mars as recently as 250,000 years ago. And if current theory is correct, tectonic plate activity brings on biological activity as well:
Recent tectonic thrusting played a major role in shaping Mars, according to a study at odds with the commonly held view that no such activity has ever taken place on the Red Planet.
An area of rumpled land north-west of the giant volcano Olympus Mons contains many ridges and scarps that the new research claims are likely signs of plate tectonic activity.
This is evidence of plate shifting on Mars during the last 250,000 years, said study author Professor An Yin of the University Of California, Los Angeles.
Conventional wisdom holds that Mars – unlike Earth – is too small and has too cold an interior to host plate tectonic processes.
But Professor Yin claims to have evidence that plate tectonics carved out many of the landforms on Mars – and that they are still shaping the planet today.
If true, this would mean Mars is far more likely to host extra-terrestrial life than previously thought, reports Space.com, because plate tectonics could help replenish nutrients, such as carbon, needed to sustain life.
Professor Yin, who presented his findings at last month’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, said: ‘People don’t want there to be plate tectonics on Mars. But I think there’s good evidence for it.’
His research focused on a series of photographs of the region to the north-west of Olympus Mons taken by two Nasa spacecraft, Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance.
Many of the images, which Professor Yin said have not been examined in detail before, depict scarps, folds and terraces that on Earth are classic signs of tectonic activity.
Others show meandering drainage features that again point to tectonic activity, the professor claimed.
He said: ‘No drainage likes to flow the long way – it’s a classic example of active tectonics.
‘All these features, if you see them on Earth, you say they’re active.’
To me it’s always been obvious, if there’s volcanoes, it means there’s been geological activity and that means tectonic plate movement too. What’s so hard to understand?
Yeah I know, a faction of mainstream science who have been studying Mars since the 1960s believe in the “dead Mars” hypothesis and they’ve been in charge. And in spite of the evidence showing otherwise, they won’t let study of Martian life go forward.
But they won’t live forever, heh-heh.