Status Report

NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Image: Fault In Ius Chasma

By SpaceRef Editor
October 2, 2006
Filed under , , ,

Click for Full Resolution Enlargeable Imagery

HiRISE Product ID: TRA_000823_1720_RED_fault

The sharpness and quality of HiRISE images allows geologists to work out the detailed geometry and sequence of events that have shaped the landscape. For example, this area shows exposures of light- and dark-toned layers of rock that have been faulted and folded. These rocks formed out of sedimentary deposits that originally accumulated in thick horizontal sequences, like a layer cake.

These layers have since been tilted on-end and eroded, exposing the sequence of layers that we now see at the surface. A prominent dark layer extends through the center of the scene from the upper right to the lower left of the image. This dark layer is discontinuous and offset along a fault.

The thin grey zone that extends from the upper left to the lower right of the image delineates the fault plane. This fault was originally a thrust, or compressional fault, that formed prior to the aforementioned tilting event. Tilting of this fault and the surrounding rock reveals a series of drag folds adjacent to the fault plane. These drag folds formed as the layered rock bent in response to friction along the fault plane as the thrust fault formed, prior to the tilting event. This fault offsets the dark layer by a maximum of 70-75 m. Smaller secondary folds and faults are also visible in this scene. The smallest resolved fault offset of an individual rock layer is 1-1.5 m. Also visible in this image are numerous small 4-10-m-diameter impact craters that are surrounded by ejecta of meter-scale boulders.

This subscene is from the central portion of the full image.

Images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment and additional information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are available online at:


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, 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.

SpaceRef staff editor.