Syrtis Major

Syrtis Major

name=Syrtis Major

caption=Mars digital-image mosaic merged with color of the MC-13 quadrangle, Syrtis Major region of Mars.

Syrtis Major Planum is a "dark spot" (an albedo feature) located in the boundary between the northern lowlands and southern highlands of Mars. It was discovered, on the basis of data from Mars Global Surveyor, to be a low-relief shield volcanoCitation
last = Hiesinger
first = H.
author-link =
last2 = Head ( [ publications] )
first2 = J. W.
author2-link =
title = The Syrtis Major volcanic province, Mars: Synthesis from Mars Global Surveyor data
journal = Journal of Geophysical Research
volume = 109
issue = E1
date = 2004-01-08
year = 2004
url =
doi = 10.1029/2003JE002143
id = E01004
pages = E01004
] , but was formerly believed to be a plain, and was then known as Syrtis Major Planitia. The dark color comes from the basaltic volcanic rock of the region and the relative lack of dust.

Geography and geology

Syrtis Major is centered near at coord|8.4|69.5|globe:Mars, extends some 1,500 km (930 miles) north from the planet's equator, and spans 1,000 km (620 miles) from west to east. It encompasses a large slope from its western edge at Aeria dropping 4 km (2.5 miles) to its eastern edge at Isidis Planitia. It includes a high-altitude bulge that rises 6 km (3.7 miles) at 310° W. Most of Syrtis Major has slopes of less than 1°, a much lower inclination than the slopes of the Tharsis shield volcanoes. It has a 350x150 km north-south elongated central depression containing the calderas Nili Patera and Meroe Patera, which are about 2 km deep. The floors of the calderas are not elevated relative to the terrain surrounding Syrtis Major. The floor of Nili Patera is the less cratered, and therefore the younger, of the two. While most of the rock is basaltic, dacite has also been detected in Nili Patera.cite web
title = Mars Odyssey Mission THEMIS web site
date = 2006-10-23
url =
accessdate = 2007-09-08
] Satellite gravity field measurements show a positive gravity anomaly centered on the caldera complex, inferring the presence of a 600x300 km north-south elongated extinct magma chamber below, containing dense minerals (probably mainly pyroxene, with olivine also possible) that precipitated out of magma before eruptions. [cite journal
last = Kiefer
first = Walter S.
title = Gravity evidence for an extinct magma chamber beneath Syrtis Major, Mars: a look at the magmatic plumbing system
journal = Earth and Planetary Science Letters
volume = 222
issue = 2
pages = 349– 361
date = 2004-05-30
doi = 10.1016/j.epsl.2004.03.009
] Crater counts date Syrtis Major to the early Hesperian epoch; it postdates formation of the adjacent Isidis impact basin.

Discovery and name

The name Syrtis Major is derived from the classical Roman name "Syrtis maior" for the Gulf of Sidra on the coast of Libya (classical Cyrenaica).

Syrtis Major was the first documented surface feature of another planet. It was discovered by Christiaan Huygens, who included it in a drawing of Mars in 1659. The feature was originally known as the Hourglass Sea but has been given different names by different cartographers. In 1840, Johann von Mädler compiled a map of Mars from his observations and called the feature Atlantic Canale. In Richard Proctor's 1867 map it is called then Kaiser Sea (after Frederick Kaiser of the Leiden Observatory). Camille Flammarion called it the Mer du Sablier (French for "Hourglass Sea") when he revised Proctor's nomenclature in 1876. The name "Syrtis Major" was chosen by Giovanni Schiaparelli when he created a map based on observations made during Mars' close approach to Earth in 1877. [cite book| title=Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the Birth of a World| first=Oliver| last=Morton| publisher=Picador USA| location=New York| year=2002| isbn=0312245513| pages=14-15] [cite web|url=|title=The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery - Chapter 4: Areographers|author=William Sheehan|accessdate=2007-09-07]

easonal variations

Syrtis Major was the object of much observation due to its seasonal and long-term variations. This led to theories that it was a shallow sea and later that its variability was due to seasonal vegetation. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, the Mariner and Viking planetary probes led scientists to conclude that the variations were caused by wind blowing dust and sand across the area. It has many windblown deposits that include light-colored halos or "plumose streaks" that form downwind of craters. These streaks are accumulations of dust resulting from disruption of the wind by the elevated rims of the craters ('wind shadows').


ee also

* List of mountains on Mars by height

External links

* [

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Syrtis Major — Cet article concerne uniquement le volcan Syrtis Major. Pour la région éponyme, voir Syrtis Major Planum. Syrtis Major Plateau de Syrtis Major Planum …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Syrtis Major — Hochebene auf Mars Syrtis Major Aufnahme des Mars mit dem Hubble Weltraumteleskop. Syrtis Major ragt von Süden (unten) in die helleren Regionen hinein …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Syrtis Major — Imagen mosaico digital de Marte del cuadrante MC 13, mostrando la región Syrtis Major. Syrtis Major Planum es un punto negro (una característica del albedo) del planeta Marte, la mancha más característica en su superficie. Consiste en una meseta …   Wikipedia Español

  • Syrtis Major — /serr tis/ an area in the northern hemisphere and near the equator of Mars, appearing as a dark region when viewed telescopically from the earth. * * * ▪ surface feature, Mars   distinctive dark marking on the surface of the planet Mars, centred… …   Universalium

  • Syrtis Major — geographical name see sidra (Gulf of) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Syrtis Major — /ˈsɜtəs/ (say sertuhs) noun a dark region in the northern hemisphere of Mars …   Australian English dictionary

  • Syrtis Major — /serr tis/ an area in the northern hemisphere and near the equator of Mars, appearing as a dark region when viewed telescopically from the earth …   Useful english dictionary

  • Syrtis Major Planum — Syrtis Major Mars digital image mosaic merged with color of the MC 13 quadrangle, Syrtis Major region of Mars. Coordinates …   Wikipedia

  • Syrtis Major Planum — Cet article concerne le plateau volcanique martien. Pour le volcan éponyme, voir Syrtis Major. Syrtis Major Planum Quadrangle de Syrtis Major …   Wikipédia en Français

  • SYRTIS, MAJOR AND MINOR —    the ancient names of the Gulfs of Sidra and Cabes on the N. coast of Africa, the former between Tripoli and Barca, the latter between Tunis and Tripoli …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia