Ancient Mega-Tsunamis discovered on Mars

Mars, 3.4 billion years ago, had water, a lot more than it has now. The Martian sea experienced two “mega-tsunamis,” triggered by meteor impacts.

Scientists discovered that Tsunami waves extensively resurfaced the shorelines of an early Martian ocean, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Above, Mars once had a large ocean in its northern hemisphere.   Credit ESO/M. Kornmesser/N. Risinger

Ancient Mega-Tsunamis discovered on Mars
Planetary Space Institute Thermal image showing ice-rich lobes, which we interpret to be the remnants of tsunami waves that transitioned into slurry ice-rich flows.   Credit: Image courtesy of Cornell University; This view was produced using Google Earth

The waves created by the impacts of the meteors were almost 400 feet high, and traveled hundreds of miles inland.

Ancient Mega-Tsunamis discovered on Mars

Color-coded digital elevation model of the study area showing the two proposed shoreline levels of an early Mars ocean.  Image credit Alexis Rodriguez

Principal investigator and Cornell professor, Alberto Fairén, explained:

“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.”

source Scientific Reports