Public recruited to identify geysers on Mars.

Author Message
Robert Clark

PostPosted: January 19, 2013 12:08 PM 

Active geysers have been observed in the south polar region of Mars:

Martian Geysers.

A new program asks the public to help identify them:

Scientists need you to analyze unseen images of Mars.
By James Holloway
January 15, 2013

BTW, the current theory is they are formed by CO2 sublimation. I raised the possibility that subsurface liquid water is involved in their formation:

North polar geysers?

Bob Clark


Posts: 303

Reply: 1

PostPosted: January 19, 2013 11:45 PM 

In the realm of the weird, there is another possibility.. Sporing fungal bodies..

Except that, if such a thing does indeed exists on Mars, then they would in fact be truly huge.. Shocked

It seems to me that if robots are ever sent to these geysers, then they should at a minimum try to identify the composition of the geyser plumes.



Dana Johnson

Posts: xxx

Reply: 2

PostPosted: January 20, 2013 12:04 PM 

Many of the active dark fan spots have small solid appearing leakage areas at the cores. I have produced images of some at times, but they are a minority of the core spots.
The outer margins of the 'flow' appearance material does not respond to wind as much as gravity in appearance, so it is likely to be a solid ice mas, not even large drifts of sand. The areas also have the appearance of a 'minimizing' rounded margin shape, not normal for sand and gravel drifts or deposits.
I have always understood these to be ice, but CO2 or H2O? We would have to measure the very small spots just tens of feet across. That is a real challenge even with the current orbiters.
New orbiters or landers in forbidding cold?
If a lander were to approach and operate at a single core spot successfully, would we find the associated heat transfer a destructive and balance altering event?

Repeat imaging of the locations where the cores are showing emissions would be a signal of content by seasonal elimination or repeat formation. The deposits appearing as ice or recent liquid/semi-liquid eruptions may be very old but younger than the deeply eroded surfaces. If so they may be a record of basalt or other type solids. The probability that these are ice seems far more likely.
The possibility that these were liquid also seems possible, but are the Southern polar reaches warm enough for occasional liquid as opposed to simple gas to solid transfer shaping of deep ice cores?
As these areas are often the product or result of ordering crystalline mega-structures in the surface solids, and the spacing is statistically repetitious, are we looking at crystalline cores with early solid ice body liquid emissions?
What other than water would form repeated cores with melting crystal cores seen as ice eruptions? I haven't heard of the CO2 equivalent of massive sized water ice crystal cores as a formation process.
As the two ices would be in forced association, with water residual to sublimating CO2, would the water simply form a gas to solid core residue at the cores rather than a more active complex chemistry?
A lander to view even one would give some of the answers, but the cold is so extreme. Could a simple rover be designed for just the study of the best candidate site?

I'll be reading your links and study the newer HiRISE images.

There was the Cydonia area HiRISE image that seemed to show one of the fan patterns in the near equatorial region where erosion had uncovered a slope on one of the mounds. Associated with that mound were the local Cydonia smaller cones that were edge associated with Lowland flow margins from the North. That had me given to a true 'hot' polar argument, as a possible system of events in both zones of Mars.

There are small eruptive cones within a half mile to a mile of the Phoenix lander, and they are some of the most recent events in the area, fresh sides and dark flows from one, so, we have an additional cause of 'hot'(active) local events distanced in time from surface formations, giving additional timing of 'recent' hot active cone formations. Depending on the erosion rates, and no small cratering seen in the cones, we could guess that timing of the surface landscape is not the cause for many of the polar, circumpolar, and equatorial cones and dark flows, possible ice eruptions, mud to liquid drainage, and the core eruptions of the Spider and fan cores.
Massive crystalline formations in materials seems again as likely more active than any biology reason for any location on Mars. Water will often melt at the core of crystals internal to massive solid ice and crystals can span many feet or yards, giving a possible source for CO2 gas pressure to activate a geyser. Stratified ice content by weather seasonal changes seems probable.
The patterns of Mars crystals do resemble at times biological colonies, so I would not discount the study in that aspect.

I like the concept and study. So many alternative details to sort through.

Would a 'Sky Crane' polar rover survive a landing in icy terrain? Could the heat be restricted enough to be not destroying ice evidence? Would a rover heat source dominate a landing site of rising cold gases or moisture? The Curiosity rover laser may be a workable tool.

Are there any cores for bloggers to list here?

Dana Johnson

Posts: xxx

Reply: 3

PostPosted: January 20, 2013 12:59 PM 

This is an example of a 'warm' season view of an active fan area. I have never studied this spot to my memory. This is a view of polygons. Are these water crystalline margins as often claimed for polygon zones?

The dark fans in the current HiRISE release should show a match of either fans at cores or margins of the polygons. If water related, is the release of dark material related to electric or ion transfer of materials? Is the core of water polygons an active region? Are all active fans related to possible 'geyser' active spots/
Also, the crystalline structures here are a surface effect of appearance, in the index page, so, I will try to find a deep alteration zone where a 'geyser' might be related to dark fans.
Again, so many possible variations of possible sources of activity and pressurized 'geysering'.
A current release of dark fan material from specific spots in the same viewed location approximately.
Can someone overlay the two images in a matching animated GIF? I have limited computer power at the moment.

There are a half dozen additional views of this area, so we have a chance for a movie of landscape changes over time. Look to the lower right side of the index pages and hover your mouse over the list of related images. You should find a distance measure from the current page image seen to the linked image numbers on the list. These are all within '0' miles on the selected list.
This may not give geyser views, but it is a study in the concept of core or crystalline super-structure margins as sources or active dark fan materials.

Finding erosion from chemistry or liquid action, mathematical patterns of super-structures, and early formation patterns as sources versus current active materials, are all methods of narrowing a search of single or multiple causes.

Possibly this is not a geyser source image spot.

Would simple erosion by ion or electric 'shedding' be sufficient to cause all active dark fans and eruptive material formations? Would competing 'diffusion' be active in dark fan causes? Colony formation processes? Simple alteration crystalline growth of superstructures?

Would we be viewing the cores or outer margins of active crystalline shapes, or just the water related freeze/thaw cycle polygon sectors overlying the crystal super-structures?

Are the answers found in the HiRISE images?

We can prove that eruptions happen recently in circumpolar spots. There are active repeats of patterned activity. We see emission of ice type materials recently. We see the sweeps of dark fan zones in timed occurrence. Some cones have shown dark semi-liquid releases in drainage paths by gravity.
Does Mars have enough gas or liquid to give geysers a place in the story? I can see that happened probably. Would the occurrence be singular or repeated in each spot?

If singular, each spot may require a 'camcorder' in place with motion detection techniques. Even deep seasonal ice deposits may be chaotic in timing or activity.
Real 'hot' geysers?


Posts: xxx

Reply: 4

PostPosted: February 5, 2013 1:28 AM 

Offline for a week, and with a couple days viewing these active fans on Mars in new images of the past few weeks, here is dual image evidence of solid active venting cores for some but not all dark fans.

The presence of liquids is not shown in these particular images. Most all fans do not show surface exposure of the active components as in these two examples. Do we carry the presumption of a continuous type of formation, a partial statistical type of a process action, or, is this a type of mineral or mechanical formation the exposure domain of active fans which have stimulated fan occurrence along with many other causes? Other explanations for the dozen or more of these low rise mounds with brighter crossing Spider undulation passages across the cores? Any reason for the pit formations at the core centers other than emissions or chemistry and crystalline superstructure maintenance of a pattern of shape and action? What are these?
Is this a mechanical or a chemistry process? Geology or mineralogy?
Geysers? Martians? Residual vents?
Why are these not found other than at dark fans and Spider formations?
Have I made incorrect assumptions or observations?

The examples are shown as animated GIFs here. The image frame is about 1175 x 640 pixels. Images are highly altered as needed for detail. No alterations except by the entire frames or by selection boxes as easily seen in the results. No details are added other than in the original images which all can compare in your own editors and directly from HiRISE downloads.





Other images of these with differing timing are next to these at the image host list linked here.
Please take an interest in these not yet professionally published items as they are many in number across the Mars polar regions.

Geometric ordered structures at active dark fans. Are many or most fans powered by action related to these patterned shapes which may be not visible at the surface?

There are a dozen or more of these in polar active fan cores, some at Spider cores.

How many new items will we find on Mars?

Are these related to the petaled shapes I have presented across Mars? Those were not at active dark fans, and they were found beyond the ice caps at varied latitudes.

With the many crater pit series formations at thermal landscape feature boundaries across Mars, are these related that feature type? Many differences, and the polar mounds are singular in occurence apparently.

Geysers or 'fossil' vents?

John Henry Dough

Posts: xxx

Reply: 5

PostPosted: February 10, 2013 11:54 PM 

VERY Interesting,gentlemen,

I would think emphasis would be placed stronger on spiders than geysers,as spiders
are permanent and the geyser is at best momentary?

This is something we need to watch and follow up on,,thanks Robert and Dana,,
good reporting to you both.

John Henry Dough

Posts: xxx

Reply: 6

PostPosted: February 11, 2013 12:11 AM 

The first years' surveillance showed that during the following Martian years, 70% of the spots appear at exactly the same place, and a preliminary statistical study obtained between September 1999 and March 2005, indicated that dark dune spots and spiders are related phenomena as functions of the cycle of carbon dioxide (CO2) ice condensation and sublimation.[19]

The authors of the report also noted the geysers appeared to orginate from dune crests.
Here is a list of MOC images of north polar dunes:
The author of this ''you must be signed in site'' is our own Bob Clark,,,quite the persistent and extraordinary Mars Explorer.
Kudos to you,,Bob Clark,,glad to meet you.
Please keep us informed.

I find Dana's words regarding spores very tantalizing indeed,,,,but,,I need evidence first and foremost.
Plausible? Absolutely
Believable? Absolutely
A Fact?,,,,,no evidence found (by me,,,only conjecture for now)

This brings us one more time to the true Alien nature of this planet called Mars.We don't even know enough (yet) to be asking the right questions.But if we don't ask then we will NEVER know.
Thanks to both of you.

Dana Johnson

Posts: 1195

Reply: 7

PostPosted: February 12, 2013 3:20 PM 

Yes, jhd, we have many aspects sowing in various images from the MRO returns. The precise symmetry of the 'Spider' cores are only seen in some images and spots, yet the dark fans can be seen as very well measured and regulated at times. The general appearance in most landscapes is variation and 'chaos' of semi-repeats, yet the occasional precise shapes are not accidental.
After long months of studying these varied related objects, and have seen even stranger items in the ice.
A few of these structures show massive apparent vertical or tilted objects appearing like tree stumps, some many dozens of feet in the air, casting shadows on the nearby cores. I know of nothing in nature but living objects which can display that cohesive toughness. Not even lava tubes can attain that hieght on Earth as free standing cylinder shapes.
Those two mounds in the recent HiRISE fan images, showed that the 'X' pattern of crossing at the apex with the added '/' (vertical aligned ridge) added to the 'X', all cross the core of classic Spider cores forming a six pointed star pattern. That is very common, and variants are common.
The mounds here show the process can be a positive relief feature as well as a depression channel in the surface. Either these are building and eroding, or, they were existant as material prior to the formation of the dark fan activity.
Some of the cores show a petaled pattern as seen at the Gale crater location as I had published here on the blog.
All process across Mars, a pattern at all latitudes, and longitudes. Not at all limited sublimation nor deep ices.
Not a process of only CO2.
Possibly these are areas of active dark fan material formation or active sources of heat for sublimation, or any of a dozen other possible reasons for the associations.
Just questions from here, and observations, even in 2013.
The 'bow shock' effect in the animated GIFs show the dark fans are affected by the mounds at distances of tens of feet distance. Quite a heat source or an active venting geyser type effect.

Justin Shofler

Posts: 9

Reply: 8

PostPosted: February 15, 2013 1:29 PM 

Funny, I posted a picuture of what I thought looked like geysers on this very board in 2005!


and here is the link to the picture I was referring to at the time:


These should be called "Shofler Geysers"...LOL

Justin Shofler

Posts: 9

Reply: 9

PostPosted: February 15, 2013 1:33 PM 

Funny, but I posted a picture of what I thought were geysers way back in 2005 on this very board.


and here is the link to the picture I was referring to at the time....these should be called "Shofler Geysers" Wink

Dana Johnson

Posts: 1195

Reply: 10

PostPosted: February 18, 2013 5:16 PM 

Offline again for a week, with a new device now re-enabling my access to the topic. Interesting how many persons have formerly published evidence of details, and how many differing interpretations can be made of the various satellite imaging at varied resolution potential.

One thing I have enjoyed about this discussion generally is the newer facts that show how wide the details vary. A spectrum of effects, actions, and possibly many materials involved beyond simple CO 2 'dry ice' and 'dust'. Even the ice is 'ices', and we are seeing even the fine ordering of some small percentage of dark fans.
As CO 2 is known to be actively sublimating to a gas, we have that in the answer basket.
Finding the possible plumes, geyser, or solid elevated objects that seem to possibly cast shadows gives a much broader problem than ice 'evaporating' or 'boiling'. That is the early simple process described in Earth type process terms somewhat equivalent to sublimation or chemicals interacting.
Is there a direct method of attributing the landscape changes to simple CO 2 gas and solid ice?
Good detailing of explaining the petaled shapes at erosion cores of some?
Some small percentage have the tiny (a few feet diameter) cones with central pits which look like true geyser/vents, and some of those show accumulation from the spots of the outer cone margins. Those would be strong candidates for the active geyser concept.
Can CO 2 dry ice on Earth ever be shown without water ice to be able to form cones, vents, or central pits in mounds when sublimating? Is there any reason CO 2 without underground caverns filled with dry ice could form a vent or cone occurring as a vertical arising source?
Why do we not see from these the same formations if only CO 2 is involved?

The prior topic of Justin Shofler persisted for more than a year. We should be at work that effort again, perhaps?
Many of the early contributors were active on the topic.

I found in early MOC images evidence that layer and landscape formation margins such as layer delineations were the 'activating' stimulation of dark fans, yet new HiRISE imaging shows object Araneiform Spiders are actual active erosion and positive elevated actions revealing the petaled cores or smaller vents in some.
An even more detailed view would help in the search, as the vents or sources of some fans seem to be as small as 'manhole covers' or dinner plates.
A geyser source larger than a Mars rover body would be not pressurized. We cannot see with HiRISE the details of the rovers generally even with the best HiRISE imaging. We need better views , and at close distance.
If the dark fans were liquid geysers would they not be probably present somewhere on Mars other than the polar region?
I have made tiny 'fans' without dust using only CO 2 dry ice and pouring a 'sheet ice' layer of water over and around the dry ice, causing any gaps in the water ice sheet to form gas venting. The reidual water ice remains solid around the dry ice cores. It was impressive to see the forced gas expressed when the dry ice was in a water ice casing, but would we see these fans if the water ice layers were all solid, sealed layers, and, is there a season of water ice deposition in the Mars polar weather?
Would solid dry ice repeatedly form the singular dark fans at the same spots if the CO 2 was the action material in Spider formations, when we can compare the dark spots and fans at dunes as paired spots on each side of the dunes crests, both at the lighted side, and usually separately at the shadowed opposing side of the same point along the dune crest? If the dune spots are commonly paired why do Spiders not show paired dark fans commonly?
Is the comparison not reasonable?
Possibly the CO 2 gas travels horizontally through the dune? If that were active, would the dark spots in polar dunes not be active as lengthwise dark crest lines commonly at topology of the dune layers? We see circular, ovoid, or slightly irregular shapes routinely which are with a minimalising outer margin(s). Areas of active potential are self containing, and yet occur often at both sides of the crests in line with the light direction, one side receiving sunlight more than the other. What is the horizontal mechanism, and why are there no apparent 'Spiders' at the dunes where dark fans and 'melt' altered areas form?
Would the geysers have a descriptive proper name someday if we see such powered emmissions?
Would the dark 'coma' equivalents be produced in some dark fans if we are seeing simple wind tails on surface dust piles?

John Henry Dough

Posts: xxx

Reply: 11

PostPosted: February 19, 2013 5:22 PM 

Good Data Dana,,,whats a little conjecture here and there among friends? eh>
Still makes for good reading,the CO2 beneath the surface,,,I think you do it justice.Your explanations are well thought out.

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