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Added November 5th, 2015


The Mines of Mars

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/HiRise

The image below (unmanipulated original as presented by HiRise) seems to demonstrate quite a few characteristics

of a modern day mining operation on Earth. Roads. Slag heaps. Mine tailings. Organized terraces. Strip mine designs.

#1) But this image is not Earth. It is Mars.


"This is a eastward-looking perspective view of a scene within Mars' Candor Chasma based

on stereo imaging by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It shows how the surface would look like from a

viewpoint at few hundred meters or yards above the surface."

"...shows spectacular layers exposed on the bottom of Candor Chasma,

which is a large canyon in the Valles Marineris system."


Color and contrast added to try and show details of landscape:


Original Image Link:



The closeup below shows what appears to be a pile of dirt next to a stripmined area.


If this area on Mars is "stepped" because of wind erosion, as NASA in their link above describes,

then why isn't the pile in the picture above eroded / terraced too?

It really looks like a giant intelligently excavated area of mars.

And it's surrounded thoughout the image by a bunch of similar mounds.


The broader detail image above seems to show this is not an

isolated example of "piled" unterraced dirt next to the terraced "digs."

On Earth these are called slag heaps or mine tailings.

A slag heap is defined as "a hill or area of refuse from a mine or industrial site."

Mine tailings are the "materials left over after the process of seperating the valuable

fraction from the uneconomic fraction of an ore."

Below are examples of what slag heaps look like on Earth for comparison:


Also, but importantly, many of the "steps" (as JPL describes them) in this image

are similar to the furrows created by Earth mining operations.


Mars (from image above) and tailings created by an old Earth mining operation:


The following closeup from the mars image is also very similar to a landscape from an earth stripmining operation.


And inverted. In this image the eons of built up sand are more apparent.


The area at the top of the image reveals in detail what appears to be a road heading up the side of the mine...


This closeup seems to reveal a road traversing the hill as well.


Here is the same area from a different HiRise image (LINK) that gives a better aerial view.

I'm not going to spend the time pointing out all the the roads running through the region.

If this wasn't Mars they would appear obvious.



Here's a closeup of the top of the image showing finer sand being swept across

the parallel furrows of an (ancient?) mining road.


Here's another closeup. Compare the edges of this Martian mining road to the road in an Earth mining operation.

Do you see the similarities between Mars and Earth? Just natural Martian geology?


The following closeup seems to demonstrate a slag heap over an older furrowed area of mining.

So how does a mound of dirt, that appears poured (notice the slope of the mound debris),

over a terrain of parallel and circular lines occur?


NASA suggests "The elongate hills may represent areas of rock that are stronger due to

differences in the size of the sedimentary particles, chemical alteration, or both."

So, only elongate hills in this region are stronger than other areas of rock?


In other words, if there were stronger areas of sediment in this region (as NASA suggests)

wouldn't these stronger sediments exist in more than just elongate hill (slag heap) form?

Wouldn't "stronger rock" produce something besides just uniform mounds?


The following image from the same region also shows an excellent example of

a mound (slag heap) over a previously stepped / furrowed area.


So, how does natural geology explain what's going on here?

NASA says "faults and folds" as well as wind and possibly water erosion.


To a novice like me it really just looks like an intelligently excavated

portion of soil dumped on symmetric coiling and parallel lines... like mining.


It kind of looks like something blazed a trail through a mound

and then the mound collapsed back upon the tracks.

Image Link:




#2) Second image example of a mining operation on Mars:

This area appears to have been dredge mined at the base of a steep cliff.

Dredge mining, primarily used for gold mining, "extracts gold from sand, gravel and dirt

using water and mechanical methods."

A closeup:


Compare the above martian image to the former Klondike dredge gold mining operation below. (Greyscale and obviously on Earth)


Here's a link to the master list of images from this region of Mars from Hi-Rise. Warning, some are extremely large downloads..


Here is the specific Mars image I am working with above:



These images also exhibit the mounds (slag heaps) and furrows shown in the first Mars mining example.


If it's wind or water erosion why aren't the mounds eroded? Why are they so similar to each other?

A worked surface?



There are many areas on Mars where comparisons to Earthly mining sites can be made.

Last comparison #3) Here is a mining operation on Earth:

Here is Mars (left) and the closeup of a stripmine on Earth (right):

The geometry in the mars imagery above seems to demonstrate a similarity to the roads and terracing in many Earthly mining operations.

Image link: http://www.msss.com/moc_gallery/e01_e06/images/E05/E0502373.html


There are many other examples of terrain on Mars that resemble our terrestrial mining operations.

The above three areas represent, in my opinion, a simple introduction to the mines on mars.

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