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Megafloods on Mars Carved Giant Canyons Into the Red Planet

Jezero crater.

Mars is currently a barren world of ice and dirt, but at one time catastrophic “megafloods” of water carved massive canyons across the surface of the red planet.

Some 3.7 billion years ago, when Mars was warmer and wetter, there were likely hundreds of lakes and rivers on its surface that may have supported favorable conditions for life. These bodies of water are long gone, but they carved permanent features into the Martian landscape, called paleolakes and paleochannels, that scientists can study for clues about the watery Mars of the past.

Now, scientists have discovered that some of these ancient lakes burst through their crater basins, causing outburst floods, also known as megafloods, which carved out wide canyons within a few weeks. The new finding, published on Friday in Geology, confirms that these flood features, called outlet canyons, were formed on very short timescales, and were a major geological force in Mars’ first billion years as a planet.

 

Motherboard, Nov.16, 2018

Discover Magazine, Nov.19, 2018

The Daily Mail, Nov.16, 2018

The Sun, Nov.18,2018

 

Featuring: Tim Goudge, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geological Sciences