Mega-landslides on Mars may speed down slopes at 450 Mph

Powerful landslides may rumble down Martian slopes at up to 450 mph (725 km/h), sped along by slippery ice, a new study suggests.

Researchers Fabio Vittorio De Blasio and Giovanni Battista Crosta, both of the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy, modeled the dynamics of landslides on Mars, especially those inside Valles Marineris, the gigantic canyon system near the Red Planet’s equator.

The duo found that ice — at the landslides’ bases and/or spread widely throughout the Martian soil — is likely a key player in these dramatic flows of Red Planet rock and dirt.

“Only if the presence of ice is included in the calculations do results reproduce reasonably well both the vertical collapse of landslide material in the scarp area, and the extreme thinning and runout in the distal area, which are evident characteristics of large landslides in Valles Marineris,” they wrote in the new study, which was published this month in The European Physical Journal Plus.

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