The massive earthquake recorded on Mars was as powerful as all other earthquakes combined

A record-breaking massive earthquake that rocked Mars New research revealed in May of this year that it was at least five times larger than the previous record holder.

It’s unclear what the source of the quake was, but it was definitely strange. In addition to being the most powerful earthquake yet recorded on Mars, it was also the longest by a significant amount, shaking the Red Planet for 10 hours.

“The energy released from this single quake is equivalent to the cumulative energy from all the other earthquakes we’ve seen so far,” says seismologist John Clinton from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland, “And even though the event was more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) away, the waves recorded in InSight were so large that they almost saturate our seismometer.”

The new analysis of the earthquake published in Geophysical Research Letters, set its size at 4.7. The previous record holder was a magnitude 4.2 earthquake It was discovered in August 2021.

This may not sound like a major earthquake by Earth’s standards, however The strongest earthquake Its magnitude was recorded as around 9.5. But for a planet that was thought to be seismically inactive until NASA’s InSight probe began recording its interior in early 2019, it’s pretty impressive.

Although Mars and Earth have a lot in common, there are some really major differences. Mars does not have tectonic plates; It also does not have a coherent global magnetic field, which is often interpreted as a sign that not much is going on in Mars’ interior, as Earth’s magnetic field is supposedly caused by internal convection.

InSight revealed that Mars is not as seismically calm as previously assumed. He yells and shakes, hinting at volcanic activity under Cerberus Fosai District That’s where the InSight lander sits, observing the planet’s hidden interiors.

Spectral chart of the earthquake, recorded on May 4, 2022 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ETH Zurich)

But determining the state of activity inside Mars is not the only reason to monitor earthquakes. The way seismic waves propagate across and across the planet’s surface could help reveal density changes in its interior. In other words, they can be used to reconstruct the planet’s structure.

This is usually done here on earthbut the hundreds of earthquakes InSight recorded allowed scientists to build a Map inside Marsvery.

The May earthquake may have been just one seismic event, but it appears to have been a significant event.

“For the first time we have been able to identify surface waves, which move along the crust and upper mantle, and which have traveled around the planet many times,” Clinton says.

In two other separate sheets in Geophysical Research Lettersa team of scientists analyzed these waves in an attempt to understand the structure of the crust on Mars, and to identify regions sedimentary rock and possible volcanic activity inside the cortex.

But there is more to be done about the earthquake itself. First, it originated near, but not from, Cerberus Fossae, and cannot be traced to any obvious surface features. This indicates that it could be related to something hidden beneath the shell.

Secondly, earthquakes usually have a high or low frequency, the former are characterized by quick and short tremors, and the latter are characterized by longer and deeper waves of greater amplitude. This earthquake combined both frequency bands, and researchers aren’t entirely sure why. However, it is possible that previously recorded high and low frequency earthquakes that were analyzed separately could be two parts of the same seismic event.

This could mean that scientists need to rethink how they understand and analyze swamps, uncovering more secrets hiding beneath Mars’ deceptively placid surface.

“This was definitely the biggest earthquake we’ve ever seen,” he said. says planetary scientist Taichi Kawamura from the Paris Globe Institute of Physics in France.

“Stay tuned for more exciting stuff after this.”

Research published in Geophysical Research Letters.

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