Earth's habitability Intelligent Design Mars

The layered hills of Mars’ Arabia Terra

Spread the love

Keith Cooper writes:

These layered hills, seen in this false-colour image of a portion of Arabia Terra on Mars, may possibly have a watery origin. Arabia Terra is a highland region in Mars’ northern hemisphere, dating back to the red planet’s Noachian geological era, around four billion years ago. Given the region’s great age, it sports many craters, inside of which are often found layered mounds such as those in this image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. 

Image: NASA/JPL–Caltech/University of Arizona.

The layered rocks in Arabia Terra come in three forms. The first type, seen in this image, is described by alternating layers of light and dark material, which may represent episodic periods of sedimentary deposition. One can imagine an ancient lake filling the crater in which these mounds are located, the shoreline changing as the sea level varied with the Martian climate, the tides leaving behind alternating layers of mudstone and limestone. Or, perhaps the layers signify different volcanic events that interrupted the usual depositional processes by dumping layers of ash onto the mounds.

The second type consists of layers that look like they are composed from the same material and form ‘stair-step’ mesas, while the third type features dark, thin layers of rubbly, uneven material, and often produce boulders that roll down slopes. This third type could be the result of lava having once flowed through a sandy region; afterwards, the basaltic rock hardened, and on cliff edges where sandy material crumbles away, the larger chunks of basaltic rock end up giving way and rolling down to the bottom of the crater floor.

Astronomy Now

If water, then life? This fascinating research on the past history of Mars indicates how a planet’s potential habitability can transition to barrenness. We can be thankful that didn’t happen on Earth!

3 Replies to “The layered hills of Mars’ Arabia Terra

  1. 1
    Fasteddious says:

    The second idea, “Or, perhaps the layers signify different volcanic events …” seems unlikely given the regular spacing of the layers apparent in the photo. Are there any regular episodic volcanic events on the Earth?

  2. 2
    BobRyan says:

    It could be any liquid that caused it, including lava. Until more research is done, it remains an unknown.

  3. 3
    OldArmy94 says:

    “This fascinating research on the past history of Mars indicates how a planet’s potential habitability can transition to barrenness.”

    Climate change on Mars was undoubtedly due to all those Martians burning fossil fuels.

Leave a Reply