Last year, we recorded the largest marsquake that we had ever detected. It was not an asteroid that caused the quake to shake so violently. Instead, scientists now say that the tectonic plates within the Red Planet are what caused the strongest marsquake ever recorded.
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The quake was detected on May 4, 2022, when NASA’s now-retired InSight lander picked up a magnitude 4. 7 quake. That quake was five times stronger than any previous recorded marsquake, with only a magnitude of 4.2. And while most quakes on the Red Planet cease within an hour, this one continued to send vibrations through the planet for a record-breaking six hours.
Not only was this the strongest marsquake ever recorded, but it was also the longest. Scientists have been trying to find out the cause of this quake for several months. Researchers in China, India and Europe began looking for the possible causes of the earthquake.
Because it was so different from any other quake we’ve recorded on Mars, the researchers thought it had been caused by an asteroid hitting the planet. However, there were no signs of any surface changes like what would have been caused by an asteroid large enough to create that strongest marsquake we’d detected.
After months of research, researchers finally determined that the marsquake which set new records on the Red Planet was caused by tectonic forces. Mars’s small size and cold temperature make it impossible to support tectonic activity. How did the earthquake originate?
Scientists believe that the quake was caused by a release of stress from the crust of Earth, accumulated over billions of years. This stress had been created and evolved as a result of various regions of earth cooling and shrinking in the past. A paper on the discovery was published in Geophysical Researcher Letters this week.
The post We finally know what caused the strongest marsquake ever appeared first on BGR.