Asteroid impact triggered 250-meter mega-tsunami on Mars, scientists believe | Science and technology news


A mega-tsunami on Mars could have been triggered by an asteroid impact, similar to the devastating blow that wiped out dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

The giant wave, which can be up to 250 meters high, was formed about 3.4 billion years ago by the impact of an asteroid or comet in a shallow ocean in the northern lowlands of the red planet, scientists believe.

So far, the location of the crater left by the asteroid was unclear.

Researchers at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, analyzed maps of the Martian surface created from photographs taken by previous missions to the planet.

They identified a crater called Pohl, 110 km in diameter, which they believe was caused by the asteroid.

It is located in an area that previous studies showed was submerged by sea water about 120 meters below sea level.

Scientists believe it formed 3.4 billion years ago based on its position above and below rocks previously dated to this time.

They ran simulations of asteroid and comet collisions to figure out what kind of impact Pohl might have caused and whether it might have caused a mega-tsunami.

A simulation that formed a crater of similar dimensions to Pohl’s was triggered by a 9 km long asteroid encountering strong ground resistance and releasing 13 million megatons of TNT energy.

Another 3 km long asteroid, encountering weak ground resistance, released 0.5 megatons of TNT energy.

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One megaton of TNT energy has the equivalent force of one million tons.

The amount of energy released by the most powerful megaton ever tested was approximately 57 megatons of TNT energy.

In both simulations, craters with a diameter of 110 km generated mega-tsunamis that were up to 1,500 km from the center of the impact site.

Analysis of the giant wave triggered by the 3 km long asteroid impact suggested that the tsunami could have been 250 meters long on land.

Pohl’s impact has been compared to that of Chicuxlub Crater, buried under the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, after which the dinosaurs became extinct.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports of their breakthrough, the researchers said, “The location of the site along an upland-facing lobe aligned with erosion rilles supports a mega-tsunami origin.”

They added: “Our results suggest that rocks and soil salts at the landing site are of marine origin, inviting scientific verification of the information from the first in situ measurements on Mars.”

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