Last Thursday, NASA announced that a couple of strong, clear earthquakes have been recorded by its InSight lander. NASA’s InSight lander explores the geological activities of the red planet. These two ‘Marsquakes’ were recorded in the same area where two substantial quakes were observed in 2019.
Such mysterious quakes suggest that volcanic activities are taking place beneath the surface of Mars. Although the planet looks bone-dry and free of life on the surface, it might be seismically active underground. The two new rumblings took place on March 7th and Marth 18th, and their magnitudes were 3.3 and 3.1, respectively.
The quakes were recorded in an area named Cerberus Fossae, which is a region consisting of steep-sided troughs cutting through ancient plains. Due to dislodging of boulders caused by repeated shaking, landslides are common in this region.
Scientists believe that the most likely cause for these tremors was a sudden release of energy beneath Mars’s surface. However, tectonic plates are absent on Mars. Therefore, the exact cause and the origins of these quakes are yet to be discovered. InSight’s seismometer, which is a special onboard designed to capture marsquakes, recorded the rumblings. The seismometer of InSight is buried partially by its robotic arm. This protects the seismometer from powerful seasonal winds and helps it to record more accurate readings.
The InSight lander landed on Mars in November 2018. Since then, it has recorded over 500 quakes. This strongly suggests the existence of volcanically active regions in the Martian underground.
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Similar to Earth, moving and flowing magma too can exist under Mar’s surface. In 2018, planetary scientists detected an underground lake under Mar’s South Pole. Underground magma might be the reason behind this creation because a heat source is required to form an underground lake. In 2019, Ali Branson, a scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, stated that the only possible reason for such quakes is a recently active underground magma chamber.
Taichi Kawamura of France’s Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris claims that two types of Marsquakes, Earth-like and Moon-like, have been detected on Mars over time. He states that while earthquakes travel more directly through the planet, moonquakes occur scattered. He also revealed that all four marsquakes discussed above are Earth-like.
So, what are your thoughts about the mysterious rumblings on Mars? Check out the article and let us know in the comments!