Valles Marineris vs. The Grand Canyon

Homework 1_Active Interior and Crustal Change

Julia Kahmann-Robinson PhD and Marjorie Chan PhD, University of Utah Department of Geology & Geophysics


Compare and contrast Valles Marineris on Mars and The Grand Canyon on Earth


  • Have access to Google Earth and Google Mars
  • Know how to convert kilometers to miles. All answers are to be reported in miles.

Comparing Dimensions

Using Google Earth and Google Mars, compare the length of Valles Marineris (VM) to the Grand Canyon (GC) usin the ruler tool [button with a ruler on it in top task bar].

  1. Valles Marineris (take the longest axis measurement you can) _________________ mi
  2. The Grand Canyon (start: Marble Falls, AZ; end: beginning of Lake Mead) ___________ mi
  3. How do their lengths compare? Find a comparable landmass on Earth that would be close to the length of VM.

Depth of the Canyons

Using Google Mars find Candor Chasma and make sure the colorized terrain map (layer in Global Maps) is visible.

  1. What is the diameter of Candor Chasma (click on the dot/name)? ________________ mi
  2. Is Candor Chasma longer or shorter than the GC?
  3. How deep is Candor Chasma using the colorized terrain map and/or ruler tool? Find 3 measurements, try to find the deepest and highest points. Provide the average.
  4. Just west of Candor Chasma (orient N to be North) is a HiRISE image ESP_014286_1735. Go to the observation information page to view the image in greater detail. What kind of faults might be forming the ridges and what makes you think this? (Hint: Basin and Range Province of the United States)
  5. Sketch an image of how the fault you named in #7 works (show the hanging wall and footwall with relative motion):

Go to the GC in Google Earth

  1. How deep is the GC? Find 3 measurements, try to find the deepest and highest points. Provide the average. Use the ruler tool (you may need to adjust your viewpoint in Google Earth to see depth).
  2. Can you observe any evidence of faulting in the GC (spend some time viewing the entire canyon in Google Earth)? If so, what are you observing?
  3. Which canyon is deeper? Provide at least 2 reasons for why one canyon might be longer and deeper than the other.