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Sep 22, 2005
Layers or Terraces?

The frequently occurring terraces in rilles and craters are difficult to explain with conventional theories. But the difficulty lies not as much with the theories as with the conventional assumptions that underlie them.

Multiple evenly spaced terraces are common on Mars. The terraces in the image above occur on a rock in Candor Chasma, the northern trench in the Valles Marineris complex. Valles Marineris harbors many examples of this terracing. Similar terraces are found in craters—around the rims and on central peaks. They also show up in the polar ice caps. Perhaps they were etched into the ice or perhaps the ice was deposited on terraces in the underlying rock.

Conventional theorists are debating whether the “layers” on this rock formed during the “faulting” of Valles Marineris or whether they formed by another process after “faulting.” Electric Universe theorists are debating whether the terracing was a result of sequential pinching of the multiple discharge channels that carved Valles Marineris or whether evenly spaced layers, electrically deposited prior to the Valles Marineris event, were exposed differentially by the Valles Marineris thunderbolt.

A discharge channel at one scale may be composed of a multitude of channels at a smaller scale: It will have a fine structure, such as the frequently occurring 56 filaments around the periphery of a primary channel. And unlike mechanical systems, such as those dominated by gravity, plasma systems can evolve quickly and abruptly.

For example, the diameter of a discharge channel depends, in part, on the current, which determines the force of the pinch effect. In space plasmas, current is often limited by the low density of available current carriers (electrons and ions). A discharge striking and eroding a surface will release more carriers, resulting in a sudden increase in current and a concomitant increase in the pinching force. The channel will suddenly get narrower, leaving a terrace as it continues to erode the surface. In a large, rarified channel, the process could repeat many times, leaving behind multiple terraces.

Alternatively, a surface that is composed of layers of material may distribute the electrical field of a discharge more or less uniformly among the layers. The layers will be separated by surfaces that have a different conductivity from the interiors of the layers. The excavating power of a constant discharge will decline stepwise from layer to layer, resulting in the exposure of terraces that have fairly constant widths.

In either case, the erosion will happen in a geological instant. In the gravitational model, the weak forces of erosion by water or tectonics require millions of years to create a system like Valles Marineris. Mechanical explanations made sense until the space age discovered that the universe—and in particular the Solar system—was composed almost entirely of plasma. With plasma taken into account, electrical forces overwhelm gravitational forces and explanations must shift to entirely different scenarios. Conventional theories are left trying to explain the ripples in beach sand without recognizing the existence of the ocean.


David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Mel Acheson
  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona, Ev Cochrane,
C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
  WEBMASTER: Michael Armstrong

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