A giantwall ofred waterrisessuddenly to the height of a modern skyscraper and roars across Mars close to the speed of sound. According to researchers from the NASA Ames Research Center in California and the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, this is what happened on Mars around 3.4 billion years ago when two mega-tsunamis ravaged the red planet.
The monster waves were powerful enough to drag along boulders that were up to 30 feet tall.When the water masses retreated tothe sea, they had carved canals 32 miles longandup to 600 feet wide into the landscape.
Satellite imagesreveal the tsunamis
Newsatellite imagesoftheNorthernPlainsof Mars put scientists on the trail of the violentevents thatprobablytook place a bit more thana billionyears afterthe solar systemformed. At the time,the red planetwas likelyboth wetandmuchwarmerthan it is today.
Tsunamiswere more than 350 feet tall
The wavesmost likely were created whentwoasteroidsorcomets, a few millionyears apart, drovedowninto the coldoceanin the northern hemisphereand eachcreatedacraterestimated to be almost 20 miles in diameter.
This triggeredgianttidal waveswhich, according tothe researchers ‘calculationswere initially at least 150 feet andin some places up to 360 feet high. While the firsttsunamiinundatedan area ofaround 300.000 square miles–an area larger than the size of Texas–thesecond one flooded an areaof around 386.000 square miles, the equivalent of the surface area of Texas and Arizona combined.
The study was based on digital topography images combined with thermal and visible images from the Mars Global Surveyor, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey.