Sulci Collapse Pits

Scaled Image

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU

About this image

Collapse pits on Mars are formed in serveral ways. In volcanic areas, channelized lava flows can form roofs which insulate the flowing lava. These features are termed lava tubes on Earth and are common features in basaltic flows. Collapse pits are the primary feature of this image. After the lava has drained from a lava tube, parts of the roof of the tube will collapse under its own weight. These collapse pits will only be as deep as the bottom of the original lava tube. Another type of collapse feature associated with volcanic areas arises when very large eruptions completely evacuate the magma chamber beneath the volcano. The weight of the volcano will cause the entire ediface to subside into the void space below it. Structural features including fractures and graben will form during the subsidence. Many times collapse pits will form within the graben. In addition to volcanic collapse pits, Mars has many collapse pits formed when volatiles (such as subsurface ice) are released from the surface layers. As the volatiles leave, the weight of the surrounding rock causes collapse pits to form.
These collapse pits are found in an area of 'sulci' ridges east of Olympus Mons. Graben cut the ridges, and one graben hosts the collapse pits. It is likely that these collapse pits are related to volatile release from material that filled the lows at some point after graben formation.

Please see the THEMIS Data Citation Note for details on crediting THEMIS images. 


Image ID: 
V07981016 (View data in Mars Image Explorer)
2003-10-02 07:17
Tue, 2004-11-09
1024 pixels (18 km)
3648 pixels (66 km)
0.018142 km/pixel
0.018274 km/pixel


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