New Insights into High-Speed Martian Landslides

Image credit: Nature Communications

Landslide deposits on Mars have been studied extensively over the last few years. Previous investigations have invoked the presence of near-surface ice to reduce friction at the base of the landslide and enable the landslides to move quickly over large distances. However, morphologically similar landslides on the Moon are likely to have formed in the absence of ice. Recent results published in the journal Nature Communications reveal that the morphological features of the martian landslides, which were captured in high detail using cameras on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, are more consistent with flow over agitated low-density material instead of over ice. The landslides on Mars sometimes exceed 200 meters in thickness. Modeling of landslide movements using martian conditions reveals that propagation rates of 77-345 meters/second (172-772 miles/hour) are possible on Mars. READ MORE