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:

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

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

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle:

Phase angle:

Solar incidence angle
42°, with the Sun about 48° above the horizon

Solar longitude
59.4°, Northern Spring

North azimuth:

Sub-solar azimuth:
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (540MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (264MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (317MB)
non-map           (285MB)

IRB color
map projected  (123MB)
non-map           (261MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (509MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (462MB)

RGB color
non map           (238MB)
B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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.