Around 3.5 billion years ago — when basic life was just gaining a foothold on Earth — the Tharsis region on Mars was swamped with vast floods that scar the landscape to this day.
Rendered perspective view of Worcester Crater using Mars Express elevation data. The dramatic crater rim was carved by the flow of ancient floodwater (ESA)
Mars wears its geological history like a badge of honor — ancient craters remain unchanged for hundreds of millions of years and long-extinct volcanoes look as if they were venting only yesterday. This is the nature of Mars’ thin, cold atmosphere; erosional processes that rapidly delete Earth’s geological history are largely absent on the Red Planet, creating a smorgasbord of features that provide planetary scientists with an open book on Mars’ ancient past.
In this latest observation from the European Mars Express mission, a flood of biblical proportions has been captured in all its glory. But this flood didn’t happen recently, this flood engulfed a vast plain to the north of the famous Valles Marineris region billions of years ago.
It is believed that a series of volcanic eruptions and tectonic upheavals in the Tharsis region caused several massive groundwater releases from ...