Thursday, September 16, 2021

The messages of the earthquakes

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The science of seismology is relatively young. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that seismologists discovered the nature of the Earth’s crust, core and mantle. Geologists and planetary scientists have since come to rely on seismology as an essential tool. Mars is seismically more active than expected, although the marsquakes recorded by InSight are smaller and substantially less powerful than earthquakes. Without oceans, there’s less background seismic noise on Mars, so the lander can detect signals from small tremors located thousands of miles away.

Despite these advantages, challenges remain for the three groups that reported their analyses this week in the magazine Science. Most of the marsquakes originate in the crust, and only a fraction of seismic waves probe deeper regions. Petrologists, geochemists, mineral physicist and geodynamicists looked at data from 10 of these deep quakes as well as data from Martian meteorites and other direct surface observations of Mars.

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