How Violent Floods Made Mars' Surface What It Is Today

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How Violent Floods Made Mars' Surface What It Is Today

The average depth of valleys originating from breach floods is over twice that of valleys that were shaped slowly by river erosion over a long time.

A new NASA-funded study has revealed that that bursts of violent floods that moved huge amounts of surface material played a key role in shaping the Martian topography, especially the deep canyons, craters, and valleys on the Red Planet’s surface. Just like Earth, flowing water created some signature surface patterns on the neighboring planet caused by the overflow of surface water, with the results being easily discernible if the event was catastrophic. Studies conducted over the past couple of decades have actually predicted scenarios like ‘megafloods’ happening on the Martian soil due to multiple triggers, with one of them being an asteroid impact.

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In fact, astrobiologists have raised the question of whether the water-rich terrain of Mars was once suitable for life, drawing parallels with a similar origin of life concept on Earth. Mars may appear dry and arid in photos, but long swathes of ground extending hundreds of kilometers and usually a kilometer wide are clearly visible and are thought to have been created due to sudden and huge floods. These land structures are called outflow channels, and their sheer size is an indicator of the scale and strength of floods that the planet was witnessed. But so far, the science community has believed that the valleys and canyons on the planet mostly originated due to erosion by long-lived rivers.

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