Wow – what a shot by Mars Express! Mars has several regions of what is called ‘chaotic terrain’. These are areas with large accumulations of rocks of varying sizes, as well as flat-topped features. These erratically shaped rocks are large, too: between 1-10 km in size. Some chaotic terrain on Mars is thought to form when there is a sudden removal of subsurface water or ice, causing the surface material to slump and break into blocks. The region shown here, however — Ariadnes Colles — is not a water-source region, so scientists are still debating whether Ariadnes Colles was formed by the action of water or wind. Either way, this is a very interesting region. See below for a straight on view that’s just as incredible.
Interestingly, the blocks, or mesas have a striking lineation, as almost all are oriented in the northwest-southeast direction. By looking at the larger versions, it’s possible to see the northwestern flanks have been eroded more strongly than the opposing southeastern ones.
Some slopes of the flat-topped mesas have been covered by darker material, likely sand or volcanic ash that was blown up on the slopes.
Anyone ready to visit this interesting region?