The researchers observed a colossal impact crater on Mars, dating back to 3.4 billion years ago, created by a gigantic asteroid that may have triggered a “mega-tsunami” 240 meters high; an event similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs on Earth.
In that period, indeed, Mars was covered by vast shallow oceans which covered the northern lowlands (called Vastitas Borealis). In the study, the researchers found evidence of at least two massive wave events that occurred on the surface of the lost ocean of the Red Planet.
In particular, they have been found large pieces of debris that washed ashore and rock marks that likely broke away as the water moved. The first of this event probably occurred about 3.4 billion years ago, while the second occurred about 3 billion years ago when Mars’ oceans began to dry up.
Meanwhile, in the magazine Scientific Reportsscientists have identified a new impact crater, called Pohl, which is a highly plausible candidate for the first of the mega-tsunamis that occurred 3.4 billion years ago. The latter is about 110 kilometers wide and is about 120 meters below sea level at that time.
The asteroid, 3 to 9 km in size, released up to 13 million megatons of TNT energy. To give you some context, the most powerful nuclear bomb ever detonated on Earth, the Tsar Bomba, released approximately 50 megatons of energy. The waves following the planetary crash reached a height of 250 meters and traveled approximately 1,500 km from the crater.