Calamos Supports Greece
GreekReporter.comScienceScientists Solve Mystery of Strongest Marsquake

Scientists Solve Mystery of Strongest Marsquake

The mystery of the strongest marsquake on Mars was caused by the planet's tectonic activity.
The mystery of the strongest marsquake on Mars was caused by the planet’s tectonic activity. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech

In a recent report, scientists unveiled remarkable news about Mars. They discovered that the most powerful quake ever on Mars didn’t happen because of a crashing space rock. Instead, it was caused by the planet’s own internal tectonic forces. This discovery reveals that Mars is more active in terms of earthquakes than previously believed.

On May 4, 2022, when NASA’s InSight lander, now retired, made a groundbreaking observation. It recorded a colossal earthquake on Mars, measuring a magnitude of 4.7.

To put it in perspective, this quake was five times stronger than the previous record-holder, a magnitude 4.2 quake detected by InSight in 2021.

What makes this even more remarkable is that most marsquakes usually last for just an hour, but the rumblings from this May 2022 quake continued for a record-breaking six hours. This makes it the most intense and longest-lasting quake ever recorded on any other planet in our solar system.

More than 1,300 marsquakes occurred

Since InSight’s landing on Mars in November 2018, it has picked up on more than 1,300 marsquakes. Of those, at least eight were linked to asteroid impacts. Initially, scientists thought this May 2022 quake might also be from an asteroid impact.

The signals it sent, as detected by a sensitive seismometer on InSight, were quite similar to those caused by space rocks crashing into the planet’s surface.

Hence, teams from India, China, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates deployed their orbiters circling Mars to search for telltale signs such as a new 300-meter-wide crater and a plume of dust, both of which usually follow asteroid impacts.

However, after an extensive search, none of these indicators were detected. As a result, following months of investigation, scientists concluded that the quake had tectonic origins within the planet itself.

Tectonic plates on Mars

Traditionally, people have thought that Mars, unlike Earth, is too small and too cold to have tectonic activities. On Earth, large and irregularly shaped rocks, known as tectonic plates, are hidden beneath the oceans, and they move in response to forces deep within the Earth’s mantle, which is the layer between its outer crust and inner core.

These movements are responsible for phenomena such as landslides and earthquakes. However, Mars’ surface doesn’t display the same kind of cracks and fractures as Earth’s, which is why we hadn’t been aware that Mars has plate tectonics.

Explanation for the discovery of the marsquake

The recent discovery by NASA indicates that the earthquake detected by InSight was probably caused by the release of stress that had built up within Mars’ crust over billions of years. This stress was a result of various parts of the planet cooling and contracting at different rates.

This is like when you have a rubber band that you stretch and release. The built-up tension is released when the rubber band snaps back into place. In this case, Mars’ surface experienced a similar release of ancient stress, resulting in the powerful earthquake detected by InSight.

Benjamin Fernando, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, stated, “We still do not fully understand why some parts of the planet seem to have higher stresses than others, but results like these help us to investigate further.”

He further said, “One day, this information may help us to understand where it would be safe for humans to live on Mars and where you might want to avoid!”

See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!

Related Posts