Rocks moving on Mars!

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A team led by USGS scientist Colin Dundas reported observations of shifting rocks in high-latitude craters on Mars. Find out what moved these rocks and spot the rocks that have shifted as well as discover more in-depth information in the recently published paper Active boulder movement at high Martian latitudes.

Animation of subsections of two HiRISE images showing moving rocks

Subsections of two HiRISE images, ESP_035346_2405 and ESP_052950_2405, for rock movement comparison. (Public domain.) 

Can you spot the rocks that moved?

The steep walls of geologically-young impact craters often have many rocks, sometimes arranged into straight lines or downhill-pointing arcs. These rocks move because various processes dislodge and move the rocks, and on average concentrate the rocks together.

Rock movements were seen in images taken from orbit by the HiRISE camera,  by comparing pictures taken at different times. The rocks typically moved by a few meters (one meter is approximately three feet) and the movements could be caused by several processes. This may be contributing to organizing the rocks, and is another illustration of the many ways that Mars is active and changing today.

By Colin Dundas

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Active boulder movement at high Martian latitudes

Geophysical Research Letters

By: Colin M. Dundas, Michael T. Mellon, Susan J. Conway, and Renaldo Gastineau

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