Monday, November 7, 2011

Noctis Labyrinthus "The Labyrinth of the Night"

While writing my book Vallar, I studied several maps of Mars, which gave me ideas for scenes. The Noctis Labyrinthus caught my attention, for one because of the fancy mysterious name, which means The Labyrinth of the Night. It’s located between the Valles Marineris and the Tharsis region. The labyrinth is a maze-like system of deep, steep-walled valleys. Some of the canyon walls have collapsed because of landslides. Other areas the land appears to have sunk down into pit-like formations. It is thought that this canyon was formed from the formation of the volcanoes. As you will see, there are three large volcanoes nearby - long since inactive.

I imagined what it would be like for jets to race through that canyon. The possibility of landslides made it all the better.

You can see the Noctis Labyrinthus right across from the three volcanoes that show up in white here.

The larger canyon attached to it is called the Valles Marineris. At more than 4,000 km long, 200 km wide and up to 7 km deep,[the Valles Marineris rift system is the largest known canyon, surpassing all canyons on Earth, with the exception of the underwater deep rift valley that runs the 16,000 km length of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

It also occured to me that this narrow canyon would make an ideal hiding spot for anyone who didn't want to be found.

But was there ever water running through the Noctis Labyrinthus and/or Valles Marineris? Evidence shows there used to be as deposits of water-altered minerals have been discovered there. Although most books, web-sites, etc that I studied aren't sure water had anything do with the formation of these canyons.

Then I had the idea of comparing the Grand Canyon to the Valles Marineris.

Here it is below as seen by the crew of Expedition 1.

Then the Valles Marineris

As you can see, Valles Marineris doesn't have that water formed look. However, I'm not a scientist, but I research these things for my books. I tend to agree that the canyons on Mars were not formed by water, but may have at some point contained water and probably still contain water in the form of ice.
The Noctis Labyrinth provided a good setting for a battle between the waring factions in my book. The Mars setting also lets the reader go on a trip to a different world. Not everything I write or read involves an unusual world, but I do enjoy escapism as long as the focus is on the characters while letting the setting enhance the story.

Have a great week everyone.


Michael Offutt said...

I am with you...I do love those Martian landscape names. The people giving names to these structures are very original. I also love all of the research that you do regarding Mars. It makes the book a joy to read.

Cindy said...

Thanks, Mike. I plan to write about more Mars locations.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Fighters flying through canyons - our stories have something in common! Like your background image as well.

Rusty Webb said...

The geography of mars is astounding. The pictures are stunning. It all adds up to being pretty cool

Nora Weston said...

Such a cool post! I can see why Mars has captivated you. :) Great pics.