connect us   

Header Image

contact us
 Index  Back   Search   Project 





Mars Map




Change Language Mars Analysis Project
Learn more...
Mars Stone Hill Analogous to Terrestrial Cairns



We encourage you to verify the source images for yourself, rather than just simply accept the facts that are presented here. Exact details of the used image templates can be found here.

Some reports on this website are based on previous ones. So it is extremely important to read the reports in chronological order. Details can turn up that were probably already been analyzed in detail. If you are new here and you directly start reading the recent reports without prior knowledge, then it could happen that the required context is not recognizable. You do yourself and us a favor when you first start with the oldest reports.

This report directly refers to structural anomalies within the Gusev crater. We recommend that you first review the previous reports, if you have not read them yet.

These include the following documents:

1. Stone on stone

An Artificial Stone Hill within the Gusev Crater

It has already been mentioned in the previous report that NASA reacted strangely concerning the discovery of an unusual stone mound structure. A very impressive image of the Mars rover Spirit on Sol 728 shows the striking structure at the top in the center of the image. The hill is already so close that parts of the surface structure is clearly visible. The last shot, showing this hill, is from Sol 730. The recorded route suggests that the rover has moved up closer to this stone hill, but there are no images that show this anomaly. This could have been geologically a very revealing object of study, but instead it was passed over in silence. One might assume that this hill may have been overlooked, but more than 2 Sol weeks before the hill can be already seen from distance. That would mean that far more than a dozen times the researchers, which were directly involved in the mission, must have constantly overlooked the ever-growing hill.

Click on image in order to get a new filtered view

One could now speculate that it probably was initially not clear that the structure should prove to be an artificial stone construction. It is also the only discovery of its kind ever made by a Mars rover. Accordingly, the significance of this discovery become clear during direct approach to this structure, around Sol-time 730. The situation was judged wrong and the already published images could not be withdrawn, so they had only the option to embezzle further data concerning this stone hill structure.

Comparison with Terrestrial Counterparts

Stone hill constructs such as the one on Mars can be also found on earth. There are structures which are referred to as so-called cairns. The term "cairn" is derived from the English-speaking world and represents an artificially created mound of stones. The exact origin of the word comes from the Scottish Gaelic language. The term they used (carn; plural: cairn) stands for a carved stone monument.

The shape of a cairn is variable. So there are cairns of different sizes. Consisting of a handful of stones, up to bigger stone hills. Structurally, many structures are cone-shaped piles of stones, but there are also well-balanced sculptures, reminiscent of a stylized representation of a person. In the German language there exists a separate term for cairns, called Steinmann Wikipedia link (translated: stone man).

These cairn constructions are one of the prehistoric cultural features, which can also be found worldwide. It may be that an archetypal idea is enshrined here, which may explain why these constructs were built in the most remote places in the world. A conical heap of stones is still the simplest form. In this particular case we are particularly interested in those constructs that correspond in its shape to the cairn on Mars. A rounded construction with a flat central part and relatively steep running sides.

A small selection of relevant examples have been incorporated in the following image bar. The individual segments are clickable and do show the image in a larger format. The image description also contains information about the location, and the estimated age (if this is known).

Stone hills in the Gusev Crater
Image taken by Mars rover Spirit in the Gusev Crater. Taken on its 728th operating day
Cairn from Minnesota
Example of a cairn from Red Wing, Goodhue County, a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota. Determination of the time of their creation is yet not possible. These cairns are attributed to the local Indian tribe which once lived there. Red Wing was named after a local Dakota chief
Cairn form Pennsylvania
Example of a cairn from Oley Hills, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Age determination could not be performed. Attributed as the work of local Indian tribes which once lived there
Cairn from Lonfell
Cairn on the summit of Lonfell, a mountain in northwestern Iceland. There are no records that would clarify the origin of the cairn. However, the story is told, that this cairn was built by Flˇki Vilger­arson, better known as Raven Floki, one of the first Vikings, who put their foot of this uninhabited piece of land (around the year 870 AD)
Cairn in Spruceton Valley
Spruceton Valley, an area of forest in the hinterland of the State of New York. Hardly anything is known about the origins of the stone hills which were found here. There are no official dates of archaeologists. It is assumed that they are the work of local residents that once were here; apparently the stone constructions are marking points, based on astronomical observations. More information about these cairns can be found at:
Cairn from Canada
Example of a cairn from Baffin Iceland in the north of Canada. It is a cairn construction, described by the local Inuit as Inuksuk (Plural: Inuksuit), and often has a function as a land marker. Little is known about the time of origin of the original Inuksuk construction. Some of the Inuksuit are attributed to the Dorset culture, which dates back to a time until about 500 BC
Cairn from Conneticut
Cairn from Brooklyn in the U.S. state of Connecticut. Age unknown.
To enlarge click on one of the images

The Martian Meaning

With the discovery of a cairn inside the Gusev Crater, the question arises concerning its meaning. In terms of terrestrial cairns most of them were obviously used as landmarks, as it is the case today. However, it requires no elaborate constructs just to build some kind of landmarks, and therefore these markers are usually made quite simple. In case of the Mars cairn, it seems to be a very carefull design. Based on the traverse map, an areal map showing the route of the Mars rovers, however, it is not clear whether the position of Mars cairns takes a prominent position in its environment.

As part of a sepulchral culture, cairns are an expression of how a funeral was conducted. In this context, they represent grave constructions, which are also comparable with so-called tumuli Wikipedia link. In English the term "barrow" is used for such burial mounds. Here, instead of a pure stone construction, a mound of earth is piled up, which is sometimes also supported by several stone pieces. The underlying corpse was buried on a variety of ways. Starting from simple inhumations up to cremations. The earliest examples can be already found in the Stone Age and has been practiced occasionally in this way up into the Middle Ages.

Landmark or burial site - more than that can not be determined at the moment and with the present data situation. Based on the images the Mars Rovers have taken, the age can not be deduced. Thus, there remains only a series of speculations.

Possibility for a Natural Geological Structure

In exceptional discoveries of this kind, it is equally important to clarify whether such a structure can be the result of natural geological processes. Which natural structures on earth can be compared with the present Mars structure and how did they originate?

The prospective geomorphic processes must show the same characteristics in the final result, as shown in the example of the Mars stone hill.

Roque Nublo - The cloud rock
Roque Nublo (Spanish: cloud cock) is a former graft of a volcanic vent in the form of a basalt monolith. The prominent rock peak is located in the homonymous mountain in Spanish Gran Canaria. Due to its composition from rugged basalt breccia it resisted the erosion processes much better than the softer surrounding rock, and remained to become a monadnock. The image shows the Roque Nublo rock with its smaller twin Roque Rana
The Owl Head Buttes
The so-called 'Owl Head' buttes are located in the Tortolita Mountains in the State of Arizona. A 'butte' is formed by erosion processes when a shell of hard rock (often of volcanic origin) settles down on a layer of softer rock. The sheath withstands the erosion while the softer surrounding rock disintegrates. A characteristic feature of those hills is that they protrude abruptly from the surrounding region, have a relatively narrow and flat top and very steep sides
Monadnock from Tanzania
Rock formation in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The shown formation is known as the so-called Monadnock. In the geomorphology a Monadnock is a single mountain/hill or a rock group, which suddenly rises like an island out of a flat shape. They are mostly old granite rocks and due to erosion processes they got a rough surface structure and broke into a variety of differently sized rock segments
Chalk Bluffs in Colorado
The 'Chalk Bluffs' are a barren steep slope in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Colorado dar. The recurrent massive flows of water that flowed through this area have left their mark
Rock formations from the Joshua Tree National Park
The rock formations of the Joshua Tree National Park emerged more than 100 million years ago after great amounts of magma cooled down below the surface. Erosion processes have ensured that the rigid formations were exposed while striking rock formations appeared. There are other large dome-like structures, that are assembled by right-edged blocks. Some of these elevations are known in geology as Monadnock
Rocky hill from Mongolia
Tsetserleg is a city in the central region of Mongolia. About 600 km southwest of the capital Ulaanbaatar. In the immediate vicinity is the extincted 'Volcano Khorgo'. Thus, a number of interesting geological formations can be found in this region such as lava bubbles and solidified lava towers
Beehive Rock in Nevada
A 'Beehive Rock' in the Valley of Fire in Nevada. This effect is caused by wind erosion and aeolian erosion processes. Aeolian erosion includes two main processes, deflation and abrasion. Both processes leave clear traces. Where loose rock is ablated by the wind and transported through the desert, sand dunes and grinding tracks are formed on their way along the rock surfaces. Thus, the sandstone in the area got its characteristic surface structure and it obtained the shape of a beehive
To enlarge click on one of the images

The shown examples have only in part parallels with the discovered structures on Mars. Either the naturally occurring rock formations are much to large, have no upward flattened dome shape or they possess a visibly different texture. Much more impressive are the artificially created mounds of stones, which are commonly referred to as cairns. Size, shape and surface structure show conformities in a large number of examples from different parts of the world.


The seemingly casually recorded cairn represents clearly a structural anomaly. Terrestrial examples of similar appearance to the stone hill constructs on Mars suggests that this is an artificially created hill. However, as with the terrestrial counterparts, there are also no other structural abnormalities present in the Martian environment. Cairns are usually isolated in the landscape. Only in the example of some grave mound structures, which are by definition described as tumuli (mounds), further similar structures are located in direct neighborhood, just few meters away from each other.

On the officially available images of Spirit, other significant abnormalities can be found in the concerned region and the relevant period. It is a stand-alone construct whose meaning can be probably traced to something very simple and basic, such as a land mark or a grave. What it really is, can only be resolved by local investigation.

It may not be a particularly spectacular discovery, apart from the fact that it is another example in the list of amazing Mars anomalies, but possibly this is a very impressive example to suggest that similar customs were practiced on Mars, as once here on earth. This cairn is possibly just a relic from the early days of the 'busy' Martian history. Did the cultural history on earth has developed in parallel to that on Mars? What other similarities do we share beyond that?

You can send an anonymous comment on this report directly to the analysis team.
For the online form, click here