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Mars Tsunamis

June 8, 2016

Ancient seismic sea waves on Mars left a lasting record, and insights into how life could have evolved on other planets.



Tsunamis on Mars. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

On earth, giant sea waves, or tsunamis, evoke fear and panic because of their potential to wreak havoc on densely populated coastal areas. But on Mars, evidence of ancient tsunamis could provide clues about past life on the red planet. Planetary Science Institute researcher Alexis Rodriguez and his team found evidence of two tsunami events that took place in an ancient ocean on Mars about 3.4 billion years ago. They write in Scientific Reports that the planet cooled dramatically before the second tsunami hit.

ALEXIS RODRIGUEZ (Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona):

When the waves propogated overland, they actually froze in situ. So what we see today is actually the remnants from those frozen waves. You can actually look for signatures of life, or study the chemical composition of the ocean and see whether the ocean was habitable to lifeforms.  


I’m Bob Hirshon, or AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard