Perspective view of scarp around Olympus Mons

Escarpment and landslides of Olympus Mons

5 August 2004

These images from ESA's Mars Express show the western flank of the shield volcano Olympus Mons in the Tharsis region of the western Martian hemisphere.

These images were taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) during orbit 143 from an altitude of 266 kilometres. They were taken with a resolution of about 25 metres per pixel and are centred at 222° East and 22° North. North is to the left.

The images show the western part of the escarpment, rising from the surface level to over 7000 metres. In the foreground, part of the extensive plains west of the escarpment are shown, known as an 'aureole' (from the Latin for 'circle of light'). See the black and white MOLA image for the full extent of this aureole.

Olympus Mons, complete with escarpment and aureole

To the north and west of the volcano, these 'aureole' deposits are regions of gigantic ridges and blocks extending some 1000 kilometres from the summit like petals of a flower. An explanation for the origin of the deposits has challenged planetary scientists for decades.

The most persistent explanation, however, has been landslides. Large masses of shield material can be found in the aureole area. Several indications also suggest a development and resurfacing connected to glacial activity.

Perspective view of scarp around Olympus Mons

The colour image has been created from the nadir (vertical view) and three colour channels on the HRSC. Image resolution has been decreased to 50% for use on the internet.

Perspective view of scarp around Olympus Mons

For more information on Mars Express HRSC images, you might like to read our updated 'Frequently Asked Questions'.

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