ESA’s TGO snapped volcanic trenches on Mars

This pair of trenches was likely formed by tectonic activity related to volcanism.


The CaSSIS camera on the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) recently captured an image of volcanic trenches on Mars. The image shows the young volcanic region of Elysium Planitia on Mars [10.3°N, 159.5°E].

In the image, two blue parallel trenches appear. These trenches are known as Cerberus Fossae that run for almost one thousand km over the volcanic region.

The CaSSIS camera took this image on 14 April 2021 by looking straight down into one of these two km-wide fissures.

The floor in this region is a few hundred meters deep. It is filled with coarse-grained sand, likely basaltic in composition. The composition appears blue in the CaSSIS false-colour composite image.

The small impact craters, possibly exposing the same basaltic material, punctures the nearby flat volcanic plains.

Elysium Planitia is the second largest volcanic region on Mars. It is 1,700 by 2,400 km in size and is also located on an uplift dome. The Cerberus Fossae area has been positively identified as the first tectonically active region on Mars.


See stories of the future in your inbox each morning.