Collapsing Volcano
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Collapsing Volcano
ESP_016886_2030  Science Theme: Landscape Evolution
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This image covers the northern edge of the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons. The margin of Olympus Mons is defined by a massive, tall cliff. At this location, it is nearly 7 kilometers (23,000 ft) tall. The cliff exposes the guts of the volcano, revealing interbedded hard and soft layers. The hard layers are lava and the soft layers may be dust (from large dust storms) or volcanic ash.

This HiRISE image also shows a large tongue of material that has flowed over the giant cliff. While superficially similar to lava flows, this flow is actually a landslide. Most scientists think the the cliffs also formed by landslides, just much bigger ones. All this collapse is driven by the weight of the huge volcano exceeding the strength of the rocks of which it is composed.

Written by: Lazslo Kestay   (31 March 2010)

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Acquisition date:04 March 2010 Local Mars time: 3:00 PM
Latitude (centered):22.948° Longitude (East):224.759°
Range to target site:277.6 km (173.5 miles)Original image scale range:55.5 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~167 cm across are resolved
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Emission angle:1.5° Phase angle:40.1°
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For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona. The image data were processed using the U.S. Geological Survey’s ISIS3 software.