Au­ro­rae Chaos in colour

Aurorae Chaos
Au­ro­rae Chaos in colour
Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Aurorae Chaos in colour

The tran­si­tion zone be­tween the plateaus of the Mar­tian high­lands in Mar­gar­i­tifer Ter­ra and the chaot­ic ar­eas in the Au­ro­rae Chaos de­pres­sion have been shaped by rad­i­cal ge­o­log­i­cal pro­cess­es. Wa­ter stored in cav­i­ties be­neath the sur­face as un­der­ground ice thawed due to heat­ing and es­caped on­to the sur­face. The re­sult­ing cav­i­ties col­lapsed, and much of the rock de­bris was car­ried away by the wa­ter as a sed­i­ment load. In the sur­round­ing area, in­di­vid­u­al ta­ble moun­tains and buttes re­mained as rem­nants of the orig­i­nal plateau, form­ing the Au­ro­rae Chaos land­scape as it ap­pears to­day. The tran­si­tion zone to the high­lands fea­tures fis­sures and grabens formed due to tec­ton­ic ten­sions in the Mar­tian crust. In ad­di­tion, small­er chaos re­gions can be made out to the south of the es­carp­ment (left in the im­age).      

The transition zone between the plateaus of the Martian highlands in Margaritifer Terra and the chaotic areas in the Aurorae Chaos depression have been shaped by radical geological processes. Water stored in cavities beneath the surface as underground ice thawed due to heating and escaped onto the surface. The resulting cavities collapsed, and much of the rock debris was carried away by the water as a sediment load. In the surrounding area, individual table mountains and buttes remained as remnants of the original plateau, forming the Aurorae Chaos landscape as it appears today. The transition zone to the highlands features fissures and grabens formed due to tectonic tensions in the Martian crust. In addition, smaller chaos regions can be made out to the south of the escarpment (left in the image).      

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