Ancient tsunami evidence on Mars reveals life potential

Mars
Credit: NASA

The geologic shape of what were once shorelines through Mars' northern plains convinces scientists that two large meteorites - hitting the planet millions of years apart - triggered a pair of mega-tsunamis. These gigantic waves forever scarred the Martian landscape and yielded evidence of cold, salty oceans conducive to sustaining life.

"About 3.4 billion years ago, a big meteorite impact triggered the first tsunami wave. This wave was composed of liquid water. It formed widespread backwash channels to carry the water back to the ocean," said Alberto Fairén, Cornell visiting scientist in astronomy and principal investigator at the Center of Astrobiology, Madrid.

Fairén, who with lead author Alexis Rodriguez of the Planetary Science Institute and 12 others, published their work in Scientific Reports (May 19), a publication of the journal Nature.

The scientists found evidence for another big meteorite impact, which triggered a second . In the millions of years between the two and their associated mega-tsunamis, Mars went through frigid climate change, where water turned to ice, Fairén said: "The ocean level receded from its original shoreline to form a secondary shoreline, because the climate had become significantly colder."

The second tsunami formed rounded lobes of ice. "These lobes froze on the land as they reached their maximum extent and the ice never went back to the ocean - which implies the ocean was at least partially frozen at that time," he said. "Our paper provides very solid evidence for the existence of very cold oceans on early Mars. It is difficult to imagine Californian beaches on ancient Mars, but try to picture the Great Lakes on a particularly cold and long winter, and that could be a more accurate image of water forming seas and oceans on ancient Mars."

These icy lobes retained their well-defined boundaries and their flow-related shapes, Fairén said, suggesting the frozen ancient ocean was briny. "Cold, salty waters may offer a refuge for life in extreme environments, as the salts could help keep the water liquid. ... If life existed on Mars, these icy tsunami lobes are very good candidates to search for biosignatures," he said.

"We have already identified some areas inundated by the tsunamis where the ponded appears to have emplaced lacustrine sediments, including evaporites," Rodriguez said. "As a follow-up investigation we plan to characterize these terrains and assess their potential for future robotic or human in-situ exploration."


Explore further

Regional, not global, processes led to huge Martian floods

More information: "Tsunami Waves Extensively Resurfaced the Shorelines of an Early Martian Ocean," Scientific Reports, 2016.
Journal information: Scientific Reports

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May 19, 2016
What exciting news I hope they find water in the glaciers

May 19, 2016
Why "About 3.4 billion years ago"? Seems arbitrary. If a big event occurred which fundamentally altered the landscape, we'd be hard-pressed to date it.

May 19, 2016
Why "About 3.4 billion years ago"? Seems arbitrary. If a big event occurred which fundamentally altered the landscape, we'd be hard-pressed to date it.


crater counts are fairly accurate.

May 20, 2016
Finding water on a planet, and finding life on a planet, are 2 completely unrelated observations. One is purely geological. The is other is something that no scientist has ever figured out how it could happen. We know life doesn't just happen. Even given the best conditions known. Evolution remains (and will also remain) a fantasy in atheists minds. There is no science behind it.



B*llocks. There is plenty of science behind it. And you see it in action. Read up on the peppered moth, for instance. And what happens every time mosquitoes become resistant to human invented eradication products, like DDT? Does God come along and invent a whole new bunch of resistant mosquitoes?

May 20, 2016
Finding water on a planet, and finding life on a planet, are 2 completely unrelated observations
How foolish of these scientists to think that life would need water!!!

They should look for a planets rich in whatever BartV's been drinking...

May 20, 2016
Good news and bad news. This shore up [sic!] the northern ocean hypothesis, but it also implies a frigid Mars. The brine content of the ocean may have been too large for life as well. (But at a naive guess it wasn't since that takes a lot of salts.)

May 20, 2016
@HA: Ah, a question for once! I am happy to attempt an answer.

There are many ways they may have arrived at the date. They used two, a reference to the original ocean hypothesis, and an own crater count. (So they know for sure there could have been several tes of millions of years between the two tsunami impacts.) [ http://www.hou.us...1680.pdf ]

First off, it is the consensus timeline of Mars as dated by crater counts.Mars started out with not much atmosphere but after the big volcanoes let go, it had a clement (here frigid) climate) with a putative water cycle.

Second, Curiosity at Gale crater has made the first in situ dating of rocks, which allow for an absolute date reference to the crater count.

Third, Gale crater had a water system at the time. It could only have that if there were an ocean somewhere that humidified the atmosphere, network of carter lakes wouldn't suffice. That ocean is now likely identified.

May 20, 2016
@Bart, the copious drinker:

Ah, two utterly foolish claims, it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Instead we see that all life obviously needs water, it is the main component of cells. It is the main component of Bart, despite his copious drinking of other stuff.

And we see that life just happens. Early Earth was sterile after a hot accretion process. And now it isn't sterile. Ergo, life just happened (and we know the conditions which made the process work).

How else could it happen? Are you suggesting ... magic!? I think you have to go back to remedial class! Magic is not an explanation, it is the equivalent to throwing up your hands and saying 'I don't care'.

And somehow 'magic' peddlers mostly want to peddle medieval myths, which texts start off by inconsistencies, i.e. tells the reader they are false.

But astrobiologists care. There are even theories, process descriptions, if you want to dig into the science.

May 20, 2016
@Tootie, I see you're still stuck indoors with nothing to do other than 1-vote the last 6-8 month of my comments. That's OK, if it help you pass the time. Hope you get that ass-leak problem fixed soon.

May 20, 2016
Hope you get that ass-leak problem fixed soon.

Why should he fix your drooling?

May 21, 2016
Only the evolutionists can see the imaginable and can not see the obvious, to satisfy their relligious needs. Their attempts to convince themselves for something contrary to the reality, in searching of the consolation for their iniquity, is really touching.

May 22, 2016
Tsunami waves? Please explain how a tsunami wave differs from a tsunami. And how it differs from a wave. Methinks you mean tsunami in this article.

May 22, 2016
@viko: We have been over this a thousand times:

"In terms of practical application, an understanding of evolution has been instrumental to developments in numerous scientific and industrial fields, including agriculture, human and veterinary medicine, and the life sciences in general.[23][24][25] Discoveries in evolutionary biology have made a significant impact not just in the traditional branches of biology but also in other academic disciplines, including biological anthropology, and evolutionary psychology.[26][27] Evolutionary Computation, a sub-field of Artificial Intelligence, is the result of the application of Darwinian principles to problems in Computer Science."

[ https://en.wikipe...volution ]

That is a lot more sciences and scientists than basic biology of evolutionary biologists. And why do you think biologists in particular have 'religious needs'? Few scientists are religious, while all who attack biology have religious 'needs' (or desires).

May 22, 2016
@vijo: By the way, since you must know you are lying, every dictionary and university will tell you so, *why* are you lying for your invisible, bearded garden fairie of your choice?

When asked, religious wants to claim their fairie is moral. What would your invisible friend think of you if he/she finds out?

May 23, 2016
@vijo: By the way, since you must know you are lying, every dictionary and university will tell you so, *why* are you lying for your invisible, bearded garden fairie of your choice?

When asked, religious wants to claim their fairie is moral. What would your invisible friend think of you if he/she finds out?
- t.b.g.l.

Why do you go out of your way to ask such dumb questions? If you don't believe in God the Creator - then don't believe in God the Creator. You WILL eventually get your answer in any case when you have passed out of your mortal remains. Death IS, of course, the great equalizer, and when you cross that threshold, you will know (or not know), for certain.
God invented Morality, but man makes up his own rules. All the killings and other evils spoken of in the Bible are the result of man making up his own rules, and willfully misinterpreting God's Commandments.

May 23, 2016
All the killings and other evils spoken of in the Bible are the result of man making up his own rules, and willfully misinterpreting God's Commandments.
@o_sz
Uhm... you don't read your bible much, do you?

Violence cleanses evil PROV 20:30
enslave your neighbors who worship other gods LEV 25:44-46
you should kill people who work on the sabbath (SAT, not the modern SUN) NUM 15:32-36
Kill children who curse their parents EXO 21:15,17

how about this?
selling your daughter is ok-here are the ways to do it EXO 21:7-8
Rape is a crime against the husband. women who don't shout loud enoughwhen being raped should be killed, regardless of the reason for the rape DEUT 22:23-24
Women are not equivalent to men 1TIM 2:12
Jesus didn't bring peace, but came to pit family against each other LUK 12:51-53
Jesus didn't bring peace MAT 10:34

your own god told people to kill women and children 1SAM 15:3

wanna tell us again about how moral your god is?

May 23, 2016
Tsunamis on Mars?

Good thing the Martians did not have nuclear powerplants!

May 24, 2016
Tsunamis on Mars?

Good thing the Martians did not have nuclear powerplants!


They certainly did, and had enough time to do more researches on it and many other technologies to gtfo their homeworld right after cleaning their own mess, i guess.
Tsunamis, huh.....that planet got a tough life. Who knows what it went through? There's many things to discover ~

May 25, 2016
@OS: 'If you don't believe in [our invisible, bearded magical garden fairy] - then don't believe in [our invisible, bearded magical garden fairy]'.

Why do you go out of your way to claim such dumb ideas about our visibly non-magical nature on a science site? If you don't have evidence for your claims - then don't make your claims.,

[OS continues with threatening me with implied magical eternal torture for no good reason - but he will find out that he is born, he lives, and he dies, and that is it - which is so religious of him. Nothing more than we expect from that morass of immorality.

He finishes in a scurry of magical incantations, as if I was interested in any of that stupidity, and his idiosyncratic brand of magic stupidity in particular.

Obviously OS has lost it, and should not comment on science sites, where we are interested in reality.]

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