The Solar System's grandest canyon

Oct 23, 2012
Valles Marineris.

Earth's Grand Canyon inspires awe for anyone who casts eyes upon the vast river-cut valley, but it would seem nothing more than a scratch next to the cavernous scar of Valles Marineris that marks the face of Mars.

Stretching over 4000 km long and 200 km wide, and with a dizzying depth of 10 km, it is some ten times longer and five times deeper than Earth's Grand Canyon, a size that earns it the status of the largest canyon in the Solar System.

Seen here in new light and online for the first time, this bird's-eye view of Valles Marineris was created from data captured during 20 individual orbits of ESA's Mars Express. It is presented in near-true colour and with four times vertical exaggeration.

A wide variety of can be seen, reflecting the complex of the region.

The canyon's formation is likely intimately linked with the formation of the neighbouring Tharsis bulge, which is out of shot and to the left of this image and home to the largest volcano in the Solar System, .

The is revealed by the nature of the rocks in the walls of the canyon and the surrounding plains, which were built by successive lava flows.

As the Tharsis bulge swelled with magma during the planet's first billion years, the surrounding crust was stretched, ripping apart and eventually collapsing into the gigantic troughs of Valles Marineris.

Intricate fault patterns have also developed due to the imposing extensional forces; the most recent are particularly evident in the middle portion of the image and along the lower boundary of the frame.

Landslides have also played a role in shaping the scene, especially in the northern-most troughs, where material has recently slumped down the steep walls. Mass wasting has also created delicate erosion of the highest part of the walls.

Strong water flows may have reshaped Valles Marineris after it was formed, deepening the canyon. Mineralogical information collected by orbiting spacecraft, including , shows that the terrain here was altered by water hundreds of millions of years ago.

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User comments : 34

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EBENEZR
3 / 5 (6) Oct 23, 2012
Excuse my ignorance on this, but how, if Mars is as old as Earth but has not had running water for as long, has it managed a canyon that could dwarf the Grand Canyon? Does the composition of Mars make it much softer and easier to weather?
EBENEZR
3 / 5 (8) Oct 23, 2012
Hey "lite", instead of being a coward and downrating me for asking questions, why not answer? Oh yes, that's right, because you're a coward.
GSwift7
3.5 / 5 (10) Oct 23, 2012
Excuse my ignorance on this, but how, if Mars is as old as Earth but has not had running water for as long, has it managed a canyon that could dwarf the Grand Canyon? Does the composition of Mars make it much softer and easier to weather?


It says this in the story, but this canyon wasn't formed by water. It was formed (so we think) by the nearby volcano. The surface was stretched to the point that it tore open when the nearby volcano (the largest in the solar system) formed.

Pretty cool, the largest volcano and the largest canyon right next to each other.

Don't worry about the ratings. They don't mean anything. You're better off not even looking at them. Lite is just a sock puppet for someone else here I think. He randomly gives 1's every time he's on. Heck, it might even be some kind of bot someone set up for fun. I stopped looking at ratings years ago. They don't matter to anyone here.
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (9) Oct 23, 2012
Excuse my ignorance on this, but how, if Mars is as old as Earth but has not had running water for as long, has it managed a canyon that could dwarf the Grand Canyon?

Even if it was formed by water on Mars: Canyon formation has a lot of variables attached to it.
- a lot of water.
- fast water.
- Chemical payload (e.g. slightly acidic - due to high CO2 content in the atmosphere and therefore high dissolved carbonic acid in the water)
- Soft rock (easily carved out).
- Silt/debris in the water

Any of these can significantly speed up formation processes.

Canyons (and riverbeds in general) also often lie on earthquake faults. Earthquake (and continental drift) can create canyons in next to no time - geologically spekaing.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (21) Oct 23, 2012
Only EDM (electrical discharge machining) can explain the many morphological anomalies of Valles Marineris, and Olympus Mons too!
Allex
5 / 5 (13) Oct 23, 2012
Only EDM (electrical discharge machining) can explain the many morphological anomalies of Valles Marineris, and Olympus Mons too!

Geology can explain ALL of them. Without magic.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (11) Oct 23, 2012
And geology do explain them according to the article. cantdrive can't drive by without meaningless trolling.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (15) Oct 23, 2012
Only EDM (electrical discharge machining) can explain the many morphological anomalies of Valles Marineris, and Olympus Mons too!

Geology can explain ALL of them. Without magic.


Oh, you mean like; "the surrounding crust was stretched, ripping apart and eventually collapsing into the gigantic troughs of Valles Marineris."
Then, "magically" all of the debris that "collapsed" disappeared without a trace to leave behind a sculpted terrain of scalloped canyon walls, the smooth canyon floors and walls without any evidence of "spreading", crater chains, and any number of other formations that clearly don't support the notion purported by the planetary scientists.
Luckily for you, you are able to afford your monthly payment to the producers of that "magical" energy that powers your other "magical" invention that uses that "magical" energy to allow you to make "magical" comments about "magical" geologic processes that have no basis in reality.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (15) Oct 23, 2012
What parts of vulcanism and wind erosion are 'magical'?
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (14) Oct 23, 2012
What parts of vulcanism and wind erosion are 'magical'?


They are "magical" when they produce results beyond their capabilities.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (11) Oct 23, 2012
And those limits would be? No handwaving now: give us some hard numbers and how you came by them.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (17) Oct 23, 2012
What numbers? All one needs to do is open ones eyes to see the evidence for the standard theory's "ripping" and "collapse" is totally non-existent. All that is left is a smoothly sculpted terrain with scalloped canyon walls and numerous canyons with no inflow or outflow evidence. As I said, all one needs to do is open one's eyes to see what should be otherwise obvious.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (15) Oct 23, 2012
All one needs to do is open ones eyes to see the evidence for the standard theory's "ripping" and "collapse" is totally non-existent.

Such qualitative statements are pretty pointless. if you have a problem with something specific then say it.

Like : "Given the atmosphere of Mars with the known dust concentration of X and the wind distributions of Y and given known rock composition of Z it would take more billions of years to form some structure as observed at U because...(insert matehmatical formulae you used and can be double checked by us here)"

THAT would be a statement. But this "I can't be because i can't imagine it even though i have never solved an equation in my life (and have not looked at X, Y, Z nad U)" is just childish.
rubberman
5 / 5 (7) Oct 23, 2012
Or CD85, if you want to see a similar effect in action, brew up a vat of butterscotch pudding (for martian coloring) in a 24" diameter crock pot, once cooked let it sit for 3 hours or so to cool, then elevate it and put a candle under one portion of the crock pot slightly off center. Observe what happens to the "crust" of the pudding when the "mountain" above the candle starts to form.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (14) Oct 23, 2012
Rather than proving a negative, let's examine the evidence accurately without any preconceived notions. What do we see?

-First, all of the canyon walls and floors are smooth and sculpted with no sign of debris either in the canyon nor is there a delta type formation at either end of the canyon. Notice the large channel above the longest main channel for a perfect example of NO delta.
-There are numerous dendritic features.
-There are side canyons branching off at 90 degree angles, many ending with the a fore mentioned scalloped canyon walls without any evidence of a feeder network.
-There are also MANY craters and crater chains that are inexplicably part and parcel (sharing rims, floors and other characteristics) with the larger geologic features.
-It bisects a "bulge" or uplift, just as the Grand Canyon does.
-The nearly parallel channels.
-Lastly, the shear size, it would be continental on Earth!

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (12) Oct 23, 2012
the canyon walls and floors are smooth and sculpted with no sign of debris

Cool. You have eyesight better than the resolution of the picture.
I'm calling "unsubstantiated, qualitative BS" on that statement.
There are numerous dendritic features

So?
There are side canyons branching off at 90 degree angles

Where? And if: so?
There are also MANY craters and crater chains that are inexplicably part and parcel (sharing rims, floors and other characteristics) with the larger geologic features.

So? Maybe the craeters didn't all happen at the same time.
The nearly parallel channels

So? Ever seen lava flow? Or a river?
Lastly, the shear size, it would be continental on Earth

So? Since when is the Earth the 'maximum possible' stuff there is?

Your 'arguments' aren't really any. Please start to make some. Maybe something that makes at least sense? That would be a start.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (13) Oct 23, 2012
Here is a link to a larger image of the canyon;
http://www.dlr.de...saic.jpg

It is clearly a strain to explain these features through vulcanism and wind erosion, especially when the totality and complexity of the entire region is considered. There is a natural process that can explain ALL of the anomalous geologic features on Mars, Earth, as well as the rest of the terrestrial planets within the solar system.
Peteri
5 / 5 (12) Oct 23, 2012
cantdrive85 - do please tell, which educational system are you the product of? Whichever it is has quite obviously completely failed to provide you with any critical thinking abilities. I feel very sorry for you!
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (14) Oct 23, 2012
I can see your "scientific process" includes ignoring and marginalizing difficult to explain phenomenon.
So? How do you explain the dendritic and scalloped features?
So? How do you explain the lack of delta type features?
So? How do you explain the lack of debris for this continental sized chasm?
So? How do you explain the assumed process without any evidence of liquid water?

What I asked was to look at the evidence without preconceived notions, obviously a feat you're not capable of doing. Each point is a legitimate question. It also seems that if this was a giant cracking episode, there might also be the evidence of some of these cracks and fractures in the bottom of the canyon, sadly the image is devoid of such features.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (12) Oct 23, 2012
cantdrive85 - do please tell, which educational system are you the product of? Whichever it is has quite obviously completely failed to provide you with any critical thinking abilities. I feel very sorry for you!

The public educational system of these fine United States of Amerika. Fortunately for myself, unlike the VAST majority, the indoctrination didn't take!
HannesAlfven
1.5 / 5 (11) Oct 23, 2012
Re: cantdrive85 - do please tell, which educational system are you the product of? Whichever it is has quite obviously completely failed to provide you with any critical thinking abilities."

Since when is re-framing suddenly a symptom of a *failure* to think critically? Critical thinking has always involved questioning assumptions. In fact, conventional thinkers need not feel sorry for somebody who is questioning assumptions because it's an indicator of complex, multi-frame thought. The people we should all feel sorry for are the scientists, theorists and students out there who are unable to follow promising leads which cast doubt upon conventional theory, due to the social pressures of their job or PhD program.

Jeff Schmidt is the author of Disciplined Minds, a scathing review of the American physics PhD program. From http://www.julesn...6489.htm

[cont'd]
HannesAlfven
1.5 / 5 (11) Oct 23, 2012
[cont'd]

"It seemed like the best of my fellow graduate students were either dropping out or being kicked out. And by 'best,' those were the most concerned about other people and seemed less self-centered, less narrowly-focused, most friendly people...they seemed to be handicapped in the competition. They seemed to be at a disadvantage not only because their attention was divided, but because their concerns about big picture issues like justice and the social role of the profession and so on, caused them to stop and think and question, whereas their unquestioning gung-ho classmates just plowed right through with nothing to hold them back. As I mentioned, there's about a 50% drop-out rate for students entering University programs in all fields; and what I found was that this weeding out is not politically neutral. To put it bluntly, the programs favor ass-kissers."

Jeff was an editor for Physics Today for 19 years, and by some accounts, their best.
OckhamsRazor
not rated yet Oct 23, 2012
I recently went on a trip that included a tour through Kings Canyon in Australia, and the guide there told us that it's larger than the Grand Canyon because the latter is technically a gorge (with the difference apparently being that gorges are formed by water and canyons by a number of elements as well such as wind, etc).

If cantdrive85 had the same schooling as this guide, then perhaps the questions he raised hold some relevance. As it is, though, I fail to see the significance of what you're trying to tell us (and I'm not intending to sound disrespectful - I don't know you personally). Are you truly suggesting that what we're seeing was the product of sentience? How, and for what possible motive?
jsdarkdestruction
4.6 / 5 (9) Oct 23, 2012
If cantdrive85 had the same schooling as this guide, then perhaps the questions he raised hold some relevance. As it is, though, I fail to see the significance of what you're trying to tell us (and I'm not intending to sound disrespectful - I don't know you personally). Are you truly suggesting that what we're seeing was the product of sentience? How, and for what possible motive?

He suggests it was an electrical discharge that did it. which is of course nonsense. he and hannes have never done a single experiment with that which they insist so adamantly. its all a conspiracy by modern science to hold them down and keep the people in the dark according to them. why, he and hannes both have emotionally invested heavily into electric universe theory.
Allex
5 / 5 (7) Oct 23, 2012
-First, all of the canyon walls and floors are smooth

They are not. They appear to be smooth if you look at photos made in resolution of tens of meters per pixel. Take a closer look?
http://hirise.lpl...1720.jpg
and sculpted with no sign of debris

A. CLOSER. LOOK.
http://hirise-pds...owse.jpg
-There are numerous dendritic features.

So what? Debris flows from mechanical erosion can produce dendritic channels without any liquid medium.
-There are side canyons branching off at 90 degree angles

Read about faults and structural deformation in brittle medium.
-It bisects a "bulge" or uplift, just as the Grand Canyon does

Every non/low-plastic medium is susceptible to fracturing.
-The nearly parallel channels.

Thank goodness they are NEARLY parallel. Nature cannot produce straight lines anyway, right?
Allex
5 / 5 (7) Oct 23, 2012
-Lastly, the shear size, it would be continental on Earth

OMG! YOU HAVE JUST DISCOVERED THE PROCESS OF CONTINENTAL SPLITTING! Shocking.
How do you explain the dendritic and scalloped features? So? How do you explain the lack of delta type features? So? How do you explain the lack of debris for this continental sized chasm? So? How do you explain the assumed process without any evidence of liquid water?

The simplest answer is - by studying geology, especially structural geology, sedimentology, geomorphology. Yet I doubt this will mean anything to you since you discard it as much as you discard physics if favour of your magic...sorry...electric universe idea.
Caliban
5 / 5 (4) Oct 23, 2012

can't,


So? How do you explain the dendritic and scalloped features?


These are typical of this type of uplift/subsidence force.

So? How do you explain the lack of delta type features?


Your delta features were mostly created in the remote past, when flowing water was more abundant, and are since buried by windblown sediments --note the barely subsurface ridgelines visible in many areas-- still, a few are visible.

So? How do you explain the lack of debris for this continental sized chasm?


You can clearly see the slumping material that broken free from the canyon walls and slid partially to the floor.

So? How do you explain the assumed process without any evidence of liquid water?


These are all features abundantly and verifiably in existence right here, Earthside. As you are well aware, there is plenty of evidence for liquid water upon Mars even now --and in much greater abundance in the past.

Thanks for the link, though.
Allex
5 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2012
All one needs to do is open ones eyes to see the evidence for the standard theory's "ripping" and "collapse" is totally non-existent.

Well gosh. Guess this is non-existen too.
http://scullyproj...E2_3.jpg

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GvSOTJSP--0/T_9MEkmzStI/AAAAAAAAOzk/kw9if8FB0mE/s1600/Divergent_Boundary.jpg

Caliban
5 / 5 (5) Oct 24, 2012

The most telling aspect of can't et al's delusion of electrical discharge being the cause of these canyons -both the Grand Canyon and Valis Marineris- is their total blindness, through either ignorance or wilful ignorance, to the obvious implication that -if they were in fact formed thusly- there would be abundant, unique and indisputable physical proof of such a mode of formation, because this proof would be inseperable from the force that formed them in the ancient mineral facies, and especially given their insistence on a very recent --if not actually historical-- time of formation.

This evidence does not exist for these two geologic features.

The "electrostatic discharge formation" hypothesis is nothing but pure fantasy.

cantdrive85
1 / 5 (8) Oct 24, 2012
I recently went on a trip that included a tour through Kings Canyon in Australia, and the guide there told us that it's larger than the Grand Canyon because the latter is technically a gorge (with the difference apparently being that gorges are formed by water and canyons by a number of elements as well such as wind, etc).

If cantdrive85 had the same schooling as this guide, then perhaps the questions he raised hold some relevance. As it is, though, I fail to see the significance of what you're trying to tell us (and I'm not intending to sound disrespectful - I don't know you personally). Are you truly suggesting that what we're seeing was the product of sentience? How, and for what possible motive?


Not at all, this is a 100% natural process, EDM is just the name of the industrial processes using plasma arc discharge to cut and machine metals. Essentially it is a bolt of lightning between two charged bodies, sort of like grabbing a planetary sized door knob and getting zapped.
Silverhill
5 / 5 (7) Oct 24, 2012
cantdrive85: If the universe is so heavily electrified, with discharges capable of sculpting continents, where is all that electricity now? Why do we not still see catastrophically large discharge events on the inner planets (including this one)?
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (10) Oct 24, 2012
cantdrive85: If the universe is so heavily electrified, with discharges capable of sculpting continents, where is all that electricity now? Why do we not still see catastrophically large discharge events on the inner planets (including this one)?

It requires two differently charged bodies to interact with one another's magnetospheres. Say the Earth capturing the Moon type of event, the electromagnetic forces would likely prevent the two bodies from colliding, however much the energy required to prevent the collision would be discharged between the two bodies in the form of an enormous electric discharge. The fact that the inner planets are in a stable orbits explains why there aren't catastrophic displays, there are however displays of electric discharge on all the planets. The only barrier one needs to get past is ones inability to accept that lightning can happen on much larger scales than we currently experience, the evidence is there, we only need to opens our eyes to it.
Allex
5 / 5 (6) Oct 24, 2012
It requires two differently charged bodies to interact with one another's magnetospheres.

It requires much more than that if you want to place an immense electric charge on objects consisting of highly dielectric materials like silicate rocks (which constitute the majority of terrestrial-type planetary composition) especially way past Curie or melting point. What's the mechanism of acquiring such a charge? Show some math, not your personal opinion. Or better yet, write a paper and get the Nobel prize in physics. This would help your cause and your lack of credibility.
accept that lightning can happen on much larger scales

Our ancestors use to warship lightning also. And the Sun, the Moon and the stars. Some of us moved on.
Frostiken
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 28, 2012
It requires two differently charged bodies to interact with one another's magnetospheres. Say the Earth capturing the Moon type of event, the electromagnetic forces would likely prevent the two bodies from colliding, however much the energy required to prevent the collision would be discharged between the two bodies in the form of an enormous electric discharge. The fact that the inner planets are in a stable orbits explains why there aren't catastrophic displays, there are however displays of electric discharge on all the planets. The only barrier one needs to get past is ones inability to accept that lightning can happen on much larger scales than we currently experience, the evidence is there, we only need to opens our eyes to it.


I've read this three times just to make sure I actually read what I thought I read, and I kind of hate myself for doing so.

If your vague assertion of the earth capturing the moon wasn't enough, you then imply the moon has a magnetosphere?