Research, Technology

What causes earthquakes on Mars?

On Mars, as well as on our native Earth, earthquakes sometimes occur - however, it is more correct to call them marsquakes. Scientists first learned about them in 1975, inas part of the Viking space program. Sensors for capturing tremors were installed on probes that stood on the surface of Mars astride shock absorbers, so at that time it was only possible to record the presence of strong marsquakes. But, in 2018, the InSight research apparatus with a built-in SEIS seismometer was sent to Mars - it was able to record hundreds of cases of tremors occurring in the depths of the planet. Recently, Australian and Chinese scientists studied even more data collected by the device and found several previously unnoticed marsquakes. Based on the new information, scientists have suggested that the surface of Mars shakes at times not only due to the movement of tectonic plates, but also for another, more interesting reason.

InSight apparatus for studying Marsquakes


  • 1 New tremors recorded on Mars
  • 2 Major Causes of Marsquakes
    • 2.1 Tectonic plates
    • 2.2 Volcanism
  • 3 Features of the internal structure of Mars

New tremors recorded on Mars

As part of a new scientific work, the AustralianHrvoje Tkalcic, a scientist, and Weijia Sun, a Chinese professor, examined the data collected by the SEIS seismometer for the period from February 12, 2019 to March 31, 2020. It turned out that in previous studies, scientists missed at least 47 seismic events. Most of them occurred during the daytime and, as a rule, these were recurring events. In nature, they were about the same as the tremors in the region of the Martian fault network Cerberus Furrows, which is a very young tectonic structure.

Furrows of Cerberus on Mars

Main Causes of Marsquakes

Despite the relatively short duration of the study of Mars, scientists already have several assumptions about the causes of the shocks occurring under it.

tectonic plates

During the study of images from the Mars satelliteReconnaissance Orbiter, it was found that in the depths of the Red Planet, as on Earth, there are tectonic plates. They are in constant motion and sometimes collide with each other, resulting in shocks. It turns out that the movement and collision of tectonic plates is the first cause of marsquakes.

Satellite Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter


In the course of studying the 47 marsquakes mentioned above,scientists noticed that they occurred in places with a young tectonic structure. Based on this, they decided that the causes of the tremors were not collisions of tectonic plates, but something else. In their opinion, the discovered marsquakes were provoked by volcanism, which can still occur in the bowels of the planet. In the upper layers of the mantle, clots of magma can move, falling into the crust and releasing volatile substances. Volcanic activity is the second cause of marsquakes.

On the surface of Mars there is a huge amount of traces of volcanic activity

See also: What is the difference between earthquakes, moonquakes and marquakes?

Features of the internal structure of Mars

If the inside of Mars is still happeningvolcanic processes, which means that its core may still be in a molten state. The liquid state of the planet's core was previously evidenced by data collected by the Mars Global Surveyor and the same InSight, but these data were not enough. The results of the work of scientists from Australia and China are more convincing evidence that Mars retains a liquid core.

The internal structure of Mars looks something like this

Scientists hope that in the future, by studying the internalthe structure of Mars, they will be able to learn the history of the global disappearance of its magnetic field. The future of people on Mars depends on the state of the core of the planet. Indeed, for the existence of a full-fledged life, the magnetic field must be strong enough, because it protects the surface from cosmic radiation. There is no doubt that the Red Planet is very poorly protected from the effects of cosmic radiation. But there is hope that someday scientists will be able to create such protection, but for this you need to conduct research and learn more about Mars.

If you are interested in the news of science and technology, subscribe to our Telegram channel. There you will find announcements of the latest news from our site!

Seismic activity is one of the most studiedphenomena on Mars. In the entire history of the study of marsquakes, scientists have not noticed a single one that could cause severe destruction. Most of the shocks at the depths of the Red Planet are very weak and can only be recorded by powerful seismometers. You can read about how often marsquakes occur in this material. There you will learn exactly how scientists monitor these phenomena.