Senior thesis profile: Zach Schierl

Shelly Le

Major: Astronomy-Geology

Credit: Allie Felt

Thesis Title: Origin and Morphology of Sinuous Channels on Ascraeus Mons and the Surrounding Plains, Mars.

“I started working on this project last summer with a research internship at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania.”

“[In my thesis] we looked at channels on one of the largest volcanoes on Mars, Ascraeus Mons and we tried to figure out if these channels are formed by flowing water or lava.”

“These channels look similar to river channels here on Earth. If you look at satellite images of Earth, you see the branching dendritic drainage patterns typical of terrestrial rivers. So it’s natural to assume that these things we see were rivers.”

“We’ve determined that the channels have turned into lava tubes where the surface has cooled. Over time, this tube has collapsed . . . and these channels flow directly into one of these lava tubes, which implies that the whole thing is volcanic in origin.”