NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured a massive landslide on Mars, showing a boulder-covered landslide along a canyon wall.
The landslide was relatively fresh as many individual boulders stood above the main deposit.
Additionally, while several small impact craters are visible in the landslide lobe, they are smaller in size and fewer in number than those on the surrounding valley floor.
The scarp looks fresh compared to the rest of the cliff: it, too, has boulders and more varied topography than the adjacent dusty terrain.
The landslide was captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the US space agency said in a statement.
Just to the north of the landslide scarp is a similarly-shaped scar on the cliffside. However, there is no landslide material on the valley floor below it.
The older landslide deposit has either been removed or buried, a further indicator of the relative youth of the bouldery landslide.
Landslides occur when steep slopes fail, sending a mass of soil and rock to flow downhill, leaving behind a scarp at the top of the slope.
The mass of material comes to rest when it reaches shallower slopes, forming a lobe of material that ends in a well-defined edge called a toe.