homeaboutessential guidepicture of the daythunderblogsnewsmultimediapredictionsproductsget involvedcontact

picture of the day            archive            subject index  

LEFT: Finely carved branching ridges on the western flank of the Martian mountain Olympus Mons
pose unsolved riddles for planetary scientists. (Note: to avoid seeing ridges as depressions, keep in
mind that the light is coming from the left. The tree-like branching of the ridges is running down
the escarpment.) Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum) RIGHT: A Lichtenberg figure created by
electric discharge in an acrylic block.

Nov 22
, 2006
The Dendritic Ridges of Olympus Mons

Recent European Space Agency images of the escarpment of Olympus Mons reveal branching ridge patterns that continue to baffle planetary scientists. But the “Lichtenberg” form of these ridges points directly to an electrical interpretation.

In a previous Picture of the Day, we noted the presence of hundreds of fascinating and bizarre formations called “spiders” at the south pole of Mars. We also noted that since the discovery of these formations a few years ago — and despite the best efforts of planetary scientists -— they have evaded scientific explanation.

We did, however, draw attention to an electrical formation called a "Lichtenberg figure." In 1777, the German scientist Christoph Lichtenberg discovered that dust settling on a cake of non-conducting resin, when subjected to an electric spark, recorded star-like patterns. Later, other experimentalists found that these Lichtenberg Figures could be recorded directly on film as a two dimensional photograph of discharge streamers. The positive and negative surfaces in a discharge produce quite different patterns.

We noted the striking similarity in form of the Martian spiders to a Lichtenberg figure. These same forms are found in the “novae” and "arachnoids" on Venus -- overlying "spidery" formations stretching around the planet's equator. Large-scale formations of this kind, if they are to be explained electrically, require something that is not permitted under standard theoretical assumptions -- electrical arcing on a cosmic scale in an earlier, unstable phase of solar system history.

Lichtenberg figures take the observed radial forms of the Martian spiders. In many instances, (as illustrated here) the "trunk" of the tree-like, “dendritic” form points in the direction of the main current flow.

When planetary scientists consider the role of electricity in solar system history, Lichtenberg figures will become an important diagnostic tool. An electric arc can produce dendritic branching patterns of fused or raised material. Such dendritic ridges are common on Mars and the Earth. But theories of their formation are weak.

The image above shows a small portion of the western flank of Olympus Mons, which planetary scientists call “the biggest volcano in the solar system.” In previous Pictures of the Day, we have suggested that Olympus Mons is in fact an anode blister (electric discharge blister on a positively charged surface) from a stupendous cosmic lightning bolt. From an electrical vantage point, the dendritic ridge patterns seen in such finely cut relief -- and present far beyond the region shown – illustrate the power of the electric force to achieve what cannot be achieved by standard geology. (See larger picture here.)

Commenting on these ridges of Olympus Mons, the European Space Agency website notes that the escarpment shown rises over 7000 meters above the surrounding surface level.

“To the north and west of the volcano, these 'aureole' deposits are regions of gigantic ridges and blocks extending some 1000 kilometres from the summit like petals of a flower. The origin of the deposits has challenged planetary scientists for an explanation for decades…”

But all that ESA can offer as an explanation is “landslide” and/or glacial causes. That these well-defined branching patterns could be caused by such influences seems out of the question. So in conventional terms, the dendritic ridges of Olympus Mons remain a profound mystery. If, however, in the grip of the electric force, Olympus Mons was raised to heights that dwarf Mount Everest, Lichtenberg formations on the flanks of the immense “lightning blister” would be no surprise.

It seems that ground currents flowing to or from the discharge that formed Olympus Mons caused heating and metamorphosis of subsoil into rock, which then resisted erosion by accompanying electrical forces tending to remove surface material. The result is that the Lichtenberg ridges are exposed like an etching.

Please visit our Forum

The Electric Sky and The Electric Universe available now!


Authors David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduce the reader to an age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events in ancient times. If their hypothesis is correct, it could not fail to alter many paths of scientific investigation.

More info

Professor of engineering Donald Scott systematically unravels the myths of the "Big Bang" cosmology, and he does so without resorting to black holes, dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, magnetic "reconnection", or any other fictions needed to prop up a failed theory.

More info


In language designed for scientists and non-scientists alike, authors Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott show that even the greatest surprises of the space age are predictable patterns in an electric universe.

More info

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

Copyright 2006:

home  •  thunderblogs  •   forum  •  picture of the day  •   resources  •  team  •  updates  •  contact us