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MOLA map showing boundaries of Terra Sirenum and other regions
MOLA map showing boundaries of Terra Sirenum near the south pole and other regions

Terra Sirenum is a large region in the southern hemisphere of the planet Mars. It is centered at 39°42′S 150°00′W / 39.7°S 150°W / -39.7; -150 and covers 3900 km at its broadest extent. It covers latitudes 10 to 70 South and longitudes 110 to 180 W.[1] Terra Sirenum is an upland area notable for massive cratering including the large Newton Crater. Terra Sirenum is in the Phaethontis quadrangle and the Memnonia quadrangle of Mars. A low area in Terra Sirenum is believed to have once held a lake that eventually drained through Ma'adim Vallis.[2][3][4]

Terra Sirenum is named after the Sirens, who were birds with the heads of girls. In the Odyssey these girls captured passing seamen and killed them.[5]


Chloride depositsEdit

Evidence of deposits of chloride based minerals in Terra Sirenum was discovered by the 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter's Thermal Emission Imaging System in March 2008. The deposits are approximately 3.5 to 3.9 billion years old. This suggests that near-surface water was widespread in early Martian history, which has implications for the possible existence of Martian life.[6][7] Besides finding chlorides, MRO discovered iron/magnesium smectites which are formed from long exposure in water.[8]

Based on chloride deposits and hydrated phyllosilicates, Alfonso Davila and others believe there is an ancient lakebed in Terra Sirenum that had an area of 30,000 km2 and was 200 meters deep. Other evidence that supports this lake are normal and inverted channels like ones found in the Atacama desert.[9]

Inverted reliefEdit

Some areas of Mars show inverted relief, where features that were once depressions, like streams, are now above the surface. It is believed that materials like large rocks were deposited in low-lying areas. Later, erosion (perhaps wind which can't move large rocks) removed much of the surface layers, but left behind the more resistant deposits. Other ways of making inverted relief might be lava flowing down a stream bed or materials being cemented by minerals dissolved in water. On Earth, materials cemented by silica are highly resistant to all kinds of erosional forces. Examples of inverted channels on Earth are found in the Cedar Mountain Formation near Green River, Utah. Inverted relief in the shape of streams are further evidence of water flowing on the Martian surface in past times.[10]

Martian gulliesEdit

Terra Sirenum is the location of many Martian gullies that may be due to recent flowing water. Some are found in the Gorgonum Chaos[11][12] and in many craters near the large craters Copernicus and Newton.[13][14] Gullies occur on steep slopes, especially on the walls of craters. Gullies are believed to be relatively young because they have few, if any craters. Moreover, they lie on top of sand dunes which themselves are considered to be quite young.

Tongue-shaped glaciersEdit

Possible pingosEdit

The radial and concentric cracks visible here are common when forces penetrate a brittle layer, such as a rock thrown through a glass window. These particular fractures were probably created by something emerging from below the brittle Martian surface. Ice may have accumulated under the surface in a lens shape; thus making these cracked mounds. Ice being less dense than rock, pushed upwards on the surface and generated these spider web-like patterns. A similar process creates similar sized mounds in arctic tundra on Earth. Such features are called “pingos,”, an Inuit word.[15] Pingos would contain pure water ice; thus they could be sources of water for future colonists of Mars.

Concentric crater fillEdit

Concentric crater fill, like lobate debris aprons and lineated valley fill, is believed to be ice-rich.[16] Based on accurate topography measures of height at different points in these craters and calculations of how deep the craters should be based on their diameters, it is thought that the craters are 80% filled with mostly ice.[17][18][19][20] That is, they hold hundreds of meters of material that probably consists of ice with a few tens of meters of surface debris.[21][22] The ice accumulated in the crater from snowfall in previous climates.[23][24][25] Recent modeling suggests that concentric crater fill develops over many cycles in which snow is deposited, then moves into the crater. Once inside the crater shade and dust preserve the snow. The snow changes to ice. The many concentric lines are created by the many cycles of snow accumulation. Generally snow accumulates whenever the axial tilt reaches 35 degrees.[26]

Liu Hsin Crater featuresEdit

Magnetic stripes and plate tectonicsEdit

The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) discovered magnetic stripes in the crust of Mars, especially in the Phaethontis and Eridania quadrangles (Terra Cimmeria and Terra Sirenum).[27][28] The magnetometer on MGS discovered 100 km wide stripes of magnetized crust running roughly parallel for up to 2000 km. These stripes alternate in polarity with the north magnetic pole of one pointing up from the surface and the north magnetic pole of the next pointing down.[29] When similar stripes were discovered on Earth in the 1960s, they were taken as evidence of plate tectonics. Researchers believe these magnetic stripes on Mars are evidence for a short, early period of plate tectonic activity. When the rocks became solid they retained the magnetism that existed at the time. A magnetic field of a planet is believed to be caused by fluid motions under the surface.[30][31][32] However, there are some differences, between the magnetic stripes on Earth and those on Mars. The Martian stripes are wider, much more strongly magnetized, and do not appear to spread out from a middle crustal spreading zone. Because the area containing the magnetic stripes is about 4 billion years old, it is believed that the global magnetic field probably lasted for only the first few hundred million years of Mars' life, when the temperature of the molten iron in the planet's core might have been high enough to mix it into a magnetic dynamo. There are no magnetic fields near large impact basins like Hellas. The shock of the impact may have erased the remnant magnetization in the rock. So, magnetism produced by early fluid motion in the core would not have existed after the impacts.[33]

When molten rock containing magnetic material, such as hematite (Fe2O3), cools and solidifies in the presence of a magnetic field, it becomes magnetized and takes on the polarity of the background field. This magnetism is lost only if the rock is subsequently heated above a particular temperature (the Curie point which is 770 °C for iron). The magnetism left in rocks is a record of the magnetic field when the rock solidified.[34]

Other featuresEdit

Interactive Mars mapEdit

Acidalia PlanitiaAcidalia PlanitiaAlba MonsAmazonis PlanitiaAonia TerraArabia TerraArcadia PlanitiaArcadia PlanitiaArgyre PlanitiaElysium MonsElysium PlanitiaHellas PlanitiaHesperia PlanumIsidis PlanitiaLucas PlanumLyot (crater)Noachis TerraOlympus MonsPromethei TerraRudaux (crater)Solis PlanumTempe TerraTerra CimmeriaTerra SabaeaTerra SirenumTharsis MontesUtopia PlanitiaValles MarinerisVastitas BorealisVastitas Borealis 
 Interactive imagemap of the global topography of Mars. Hover your mouse to see the names of over 25 prominent geographic features, and click to link to them. Coloring of the base map indicates relative elevations, based on data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor. Reds and pinks are higher elevation (+3 km to +8 km); yellow is 0 km; greens and blues are lower elevation (down to −8 km). Whites (>+12 km) and browns (>+8 km) are the highest elevations. Axes are latitude and longitude; Poles are not shown.
(See also: Mars Rovers map) (viewdiscuss)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Irwin, R, et al. 2002. Geomorphology of Ma'adim Vallis, Mars and associated paleolake basins. J. Geophys. Res. 109(E12): doi:10.1029/2004JE002287
  3. ^ Michael H. Carr (2006). The surface of Mars. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-87201-0. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
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  5. ^ Blunck, J. 1982. Mars and its Satellites. Exposition Press. Smithtown, N.Y.
  6. ^ Osterloo; Hamilton, VE; Bandfield, JL; Glotch, TD; Baldridge, AM; Christensen, PR; Tornabene, LL; Anderson, FS; et al. (2008). "Chloride-Bearing Materials in the Southern Highlands of Mars". Science. 319 (5870): 1651–1654. Bibcode:2008Sci...319.1651O. doi:10.1126/science.1150690. PMID 18356522.
  7. ^ "NASA Mission Finds New Clues to Guide Search for Life on Mars". 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  8. ^ Murchie, S. et al. 2009. A synthesis of Martian aqueous mineralogy after 1 Mars year of observations from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Journal of Geophysical Research: 114.
  9. ^ Davila, A. et al. 2011. A large sedimentary basin in the Terra Sirenum region of the southern highlands of Mars. Icarus. 212: 579-589.
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  14. ^ U.S. department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey, Topographic Map of the Eastern Region of Mars M 15M 0/270 2AT, 1991
  15. ^
  16. ^ Levy, J. et al. 2009. Concentric crater fill in Utopia Planitia: History and interaction between glacial "brain terrain" and periglacial processes. Icarus: 202. 462-476.
  17. ^ Levy, J., J. Head, D. Marchant. 2010. Concentric Crater fill in the northern mid-latitudes of Mars: Formation process and relationships to similar landforms of glacial origin. Icarus 2009, 390-404.
  18. ^ Levy, J., J. Head, J. Dickson, C. Fassett, G. Morgan, S. Schon. 2010. Identification of gully debris flow deposits in Protonilus Mensae, Mars: Characterization of a water-bearing, energetic gully-forming process. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 294, 368–377.
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  20. ^ Garvin, J., S. Sakimoto, J. Frawley. 2003. Craters on Mars: Geometric properties from gridded MOLA topography. In: Sixth International Conference on Mars. July 20–25, 2003, Pasadena, California. Abstract 3277.
  21. ^ Garvin, J. et al. 2002. Global geometric properties of martian impact craters. Lunar Planet. Sci: 33. Abstract # 1255.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Kreslavsky, M. and J. Head. 2006. Modification of impact craters in the northern planes of Mars: Implications for the Amazonian climate history. Meteorit. Planet. Sci.: 41. 1633-1646
  24. ^ Madeleine, J. et al. 2007. Exploring the northern mid-latitude glaciation with a general circulation model. In: Seventh International Conference on Mars. Abstract 3096.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Fastook, J., J.Head. 2014. Concentric crater fill: Rates of glacial accumulation, infilling and deglaciation in the Amazonian and Noachian of Mars. 45th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2014) 1227.pdf
  27. ^ Barlow, N. 2008. Mars: An Introduction to its Interior, Surface and Atmosphere. Cambridge University Press
  28. ^ ISBN 978-0-387-48925-4
  29. ^ ISBN 978-0-521-82956-4
  30. ^ Connerney, J. et al. 1999. Magnetic lineations in the ancient crust of Mars. Science: 284. 794-798.
  31. ^ Langlais, B. et al. 2004. Crustal magnetic field of Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research. 109: EO2008
  32. ^ Connerney, J.; Acuña, MH; Ness, NF; Kletetschka, G; Mitchell, DL; Lin, RP; Reme, H; et al. (2005). "Tectonic implications of Mars crustal magnetism". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 102 (42): 14970–14975. Bibcode:2005PNAS..10214970C. doi:10.1073/pnas.0507469102. PMC 1250232. PMID 16217034.
  33. ^ Acuna, M.; Connerney, JE; Ness, NF; Lin, RP; Mitchell, D; Carlson, CW; McFadden, J; Anderson, KA; et al. (1999). "Global distribution of crustal magnetization discovered by the Mars Global Surveyor MAG/ER Experiment". Science. 284 (5415): 790–793. Bibcode:1999Sci...284..790A. doi:10.1126/science.284.5415.790. PMID 10221908.
  34. ^

Recommended readingEdit

  • Grotzinger, J. and R. Milliken (eds.). 2012. Sedimentary Geology of Mars. SEPM.
  • Lorenz, R. 2014. The Dune Whisperers. The Planetary Report: 34, 1, 8-14
  • Lorenz, R., J. Zimbelman. 2014. Dune Worlds: How Windblown Sand Shapes Planetary Landscapes. Springer Praxis Books / Geophysical Sciences.

External linksEdit