Deep Martian Geology: Signs of Plate Tectonics & Dynamo?

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In summary, recent studies have revealed new information about the geology and formation of Mars. The planet's crust is surprisingly thin, its mantle cooler than expected, and its large iron core still molten. Evidence suggests that in its early days, Mars had a dynamic crust formation process similar to plate tectonics on Earth. This could have been supported by a geological dynamo that generated a global magnetic field, protecting the planet's atmosphere from erosion by the solar wind. These findings add to our understanding of Mars's past and the intriguing geological processes that shaped it. Further research is expected to shed more light on this subject.
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BillTre
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TL;DR Summary
NASA's Insight lander has been on Mars for 2 years.
Its geological sensors indicate Mars has a thinner than expected crust, a cooler then expected mantle, and a large liquid core.
I have long been intrigued about what's going on inside Mars.
It shows signs of having had a very dynamic past, huge impact craters, huge volcanoes, massive systems of fissures and valleys.
Some think that it went through a period of plate tectonics and had a geological dynamo that generated a global magnetic field protecting its atmosphere from erosion due to the solar wind.

Science magazine news article here.

The results, some debuting this month at an online meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), show the planet’s crust is surprisingly thin, its mantle cooler than expected, and its large iron core still molten. The findings suggest that in its infancy, Mars efficiently shed heat—perhaps through a pattern of upwelling mantle rock and subducting crust similar to plate tectonics on Earth. “This may be evidence for a far more dynamic crust formation in Mars’s early days,” says Stephen Mojzsis, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who is unaffiliated with the mission.

Screen Shot 2020-12-16 at 4.16.43 PM.png


On Earth, a geological dynamo and plate tectonics (along with an alternation of the magnetic field) results in a pattern of stripes in the crust as new crust is exuded where the new crust is generated as the crust spreads apart.

This was found on Mars several years ago:

Screen Shot 2020-12-16 at 5.49.42 PM.png
 
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stripes in the crust that suggest that Mars did indeed go through a period of plate tectonics and had a geological dynamo generating a global magnetic field, which could have protected its atmosphere from the solar wind.

It's really interesting to think about what Mars was like billions of years ago, and what kind of geological processes were going on there. I'm looking forward to seeing more research about this subject!
 
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Yes, it's amazing to think about the geological processes that have shaped Mars over its history. The findings from this study definitely add to our understanding of the planet's early days and how it was able to maintain a magnetic field and protective atmosphere. And the comparison to Earth's plate tectonics and magnetic field is really interesting. It's exciting to see new discoveries being made about Mars and I can't wait to see what else we will learn in the future.
 

Related to Deep Martian Geology: Signs of Plate Tectonics & Dynamo?

1. What is plate tectonics on Mars?

Plate tectonics on Mars is the process by which the surface of the planet is broken into several large pieces, or plates, that move and interact with each other. These movements can cause significant changes to the surface, such as the formation of mountains and valleys.

2. How do we know that Mars has plate tectonics?

Scientists have observed evidence of plate tectonic activity on Mars through various methods, such as analyzing the planet's topography and studying the distribution of minerals and rocks on the surface. Additionally, data from orbiting spacecraft and rovers have provided further evidence of plate tectonic processes on Mars.

3. What is a dynamo and how does it relate to Martian geology?

A dynamo is a natural process that generates a magnetic field. On Mars, the dynamo is thought to have been powered by the planet's molten core. This magnetic field plays a crucial role in shaping the planet's geology, as it can protect the atmosphere from solar wind and influence the movement of tectonic plates.

4. What are some signs of plate tectonics and a dynamo on Mars?

Some signs of plate tectonics on Mars include the presence of large volcanoes, such as Olympus Mons, and the formation of rift valleys and fault lines. Evidence of a dynamo can be seen in the planet's magnetic field, which has been observed by orbiting spacecraft and rovers.

5. How does understanding Martian geology and plate tectonics benefit us?

Studying Martian geology and plate tectonics can provide valuable insights into the formation and evolution of the planet. It can also help us understand the potential for past or present habitable environments on Mars. Additionally, understanding the geology of Mars can aid in planning future missions and potential human exploration of the planet.

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