New Study Finds Traces of Mega-Tsunamis on Mars
A team studying Mars's history has just presented evidence that suggests the planet's Northern ocean experience not one, but two mega-tsunamis. The team, from Planetary Sciences in Arizona and Cornell University, conducted a detailed analysis of the planet's Northernmost plains, finding signs that an ocean once existed there. However, these signs of significant water weren't exactly where they were expecting them to be.
J. Alex P. Rodriguez and researchers from Cornell University believe two separate meteor strikes, millions of years apart, each caused mega-tsunamis which changed the Martian landscape forever.
Arrows highlight the furthest reaches of one of the huge Tsunamis - J. Alex P. Rodriguez
Evidence suggests these mega-tsunamis produced waves measuring up to 400ft high, which for reference is well over three times higher than the devastating Pacific tsunami of 2011.
Almost as fast as these huge tsunamis hurtled across the Martian landscape, they swiftly receded, leaving backwash channels that are visible on the planet's surface today. In the case of the second tsunami, some of the receding water froze leaving lobes of ice which became isolated from the ocean as it reverted back to its original shoreline.
The most-exciting part of this evidence isn't the tsunamis themselves, but instead the shape of the aforementioned icy lobes it left behind. After studying the flow of this cold mass of water, the research team believes they have strong evidence that the oceans were saturated with salt, keeping it in a liquid form for much longer. As Fairén points out, when it comes to hosting life, salt is a very, very good sign.