Mars registered a megatsunami like Chicxulub’s on Earth

Mars experienced a megatsunami after an asteroid impact similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 3.4 billion years ago.


A Martian megatsunami could have been caused by an asteroid impact similar to the one resulting from the Chicxulub impact , which wiped out the dinosaurs on Earth 66 million years ago.

A study published in the journal ‘ Scientific Reports ‘ describes a huge impact crater in the northern lowlands of Mars in a region that harbored an ocean on ancient Mars.

New information

Previous research had proposed that an asteroid or comet impact in a lowland ocean north of Mars could have caused a megatsunami approximately 3.4 billion years ago. However, prior to this study the location of the resulting impact crater was unclear.

Alexis Rodríguez and colleagues at the Institute for Planetary Sciences in Tucson, United States, analyzed maps of the surface of Mars , created by combining images from previous missions to the planet, and identified an impact crater that could have caused the megatsunami .

The crater, which they have named Pohl, has a diameter of 110 kilometers and is located in an area of ​​the northern lowlands that, according to previous studies, could have been covered by an ocean, in a region located about 120 meters above sea level. below proposed sea level. The authors suggest that Pohl could have formed around 3.4 billion years ago, based on its position above and below rocks previously dated to that time.

The authors simulated asteroid and comet collisions with this region to see what kind of impact Pohl might have created and whether this could have caused a megatsunami . They found that the simulations that formed craters with dimensions similar to Pohl’s were caused by either a nine kilometer asteroid encountering strong drag on the ground, releasing 13 million megatons of TNT energy, or by a three kilometer asteroid encountering a weak resistance on the ground, releasing 0.5 million megatons of TNT energy.

The amount of energy released by the Soviet Tsar, the most powerful nuclear bomb ever tested, was approximately 57 megatons of TNT energy.

Both simulated impacts formed craters 110 kilometers in diameter and generated megatsunamis that reached up to 1,500 kilometers from the center of the impact site. Analysis of the megatsunami triggered by the three kilometer asteroid impact indicated that this tsunami could have been up to approximately 250 meters high on land.

The authors suggest that the consequences of the proposed Pohl impact may have had similarities to the Chicxulub impact on Earth, which previous research found to have occurred in a region 200 meters below sea level, generated a crater with a temporal diameter of 100 kilometers and caused a megatsunami 200 meters high on land.