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The seismicity of Mars


The InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission landed in Elysium Planitia on Mars on 26 November 2018 and fully deployed its seismometer by the end of February 2019. The mission aims to detect, characterize and locate seismic activity on Mars, and to further constrain the internal structure, composition and dynamics of the planet. Here, we present seismometer data recorded until 30 September 2019, which reveal that Mars is seismically active. We identify 174 marsquakes, comprising two distinct populations: 150 small-magnitude, high-frequency events with waves propagating at crustal depths and 24 low-frequency, subcrustal events of magnitude Mw 3–4 with waves propagating at various depths in the mantle. These marsquakes have spectral characteristics similar to the seismicity observed on the Earth and Moon. We determine that two of the largest detected marsquakes were located near the Cerberus Fossae fracture system. From the recorded seismicity, we constrain attenuation in the crust and mantle, and find indications of a potential low-S-wave-velocity layer in the upper mantle.

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Fig. 1: Spectrograms for Sol 185 and Sols 72–299.
Fig. 2: Spectral envelopes and acceleration power spectrograms.
Fig. 3: Event alignment with distance.
Fig. 4: Displacement spectra.
Fig. 5: Schematic of wave propagation for the different event types.
Fig. 6: Global seismicity map of Mars shown on a Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) elevation map.

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Data availability

The InSight seismic event catalogue5 and waveform data6 are available from the IRIS-DMC and SEIS-InSight data portal ( The catalogue and waveform data have the identifiers and, respectively. Seismic waveforms as well as data from all other InSight instruments and MOLA topographic data are available from NASA PDS (

Code availability

The analyses in this study were conducted using a suite of custom software tools. The source codes can be made available from the Marsquake Service upon request (


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We acknowledge NASA, CNES and its partner agencies and institutions (UKSA, SSO, DLR, JPL, IPGP-CNRS, ETHZ, IC and MPS-MPG) and the flight operations team at JPL, SISMOC, MSDS, IRIS-DMC and PDS for providing SEIS data. The Swiss co-authors were jointly funded by (1) the Swiss National Science Foundation and French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (SNF-ANR project 157133 ‘Seismology on Mars’), (2) the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF project 172508 ‘Mapping the internal structure of Mars’), (3) the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SEFRI project ‘MarsQuake Service-Preparatory Phase’) and (4) ETH Research grant no. ETH-06 17-02. Additional support came from the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) under project ID s922. The Swiss contribution in the implementation of the SEIS electronics was made possible by funding from the federal Swiss Space Office (SSO) and contractual and technical support from the ESA-PRODEX office. The French Team acknowledge the French Space Agency CNES, which has supported and funded all SEIS-related contracts and CNES employees, as well as CNRS and the French team universities for personal and infrastructure support. Additional support was provided by ANR (ANR-14-CE36-0012-02 and ANR-19-CE31-0008-08) and, for the IPGP team, by the UnivEarthS Labex programme (ANR-10-LABX-0023), IDEX Sorbonne Paris Cité (ANR-11-IDEX-0005-0). SEIS-SP development and delivery were funded by the UK Space Agency. A portion of the work was carried out at the InSight Project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The MPS SEIS team acknowledges funding for development of the SEIS leveling system by the DLR German Space Agency. We thank gempa GmbH for software development related to the MQS tools. This paper is InSight contribution number 102.

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Authors and Affiliations



D.G. coordinated the seismological interpretations and wrote the manuscript. P.L. led the SEIS experiment and the VBB sensor work, and designed the higher-level requirements of the experiment together with D.M. W.B.B. led the InSight mission and the US contribution to SEIS. D.G., P.L., W.T.P. and U.C. led SEIS subsystems work. S.C., J.F.C., M.v.D. and S.C.S. contributed figures and to the writing of the main text and methods. S.C., J.F.C., S.C.S., M.v.D., M.B., R.F.G., A.K., M.P., C. Perrin, P.L. and W.T.P. provided seismological analyses. J.F.C., M.B., S.C., C.C., M.v.D., A.H., A.K., T.K., G.M., J.-R.S. and S.C.S. were the Marsquake Service frontline team leading first data analysis. D.G., W.B.B., D.B., R.F.G., S.K., P.L., M.P., W.T.P., S.E.S., A.S. and R.C.W., in addition to the frontline team members, served in the Marsquake Service review team. F.E. led the MQS operational software development, and E. Beucler, C. Perrin, S.C.S. and S.C. managed Event Request Proposals. A.S. and D.B. managed the Mars Weather Service. D.B. and J.A.R.M. led the InSight APSS and TWINS instruments. On-board flight software was coordinated by R.L.-C. and M.N. I.D., N.T. and F.K. led the investigation into impacts, and A.L. and S.K. contributed on other non-seismic sources. N.M., K.H., D.M. and B.K.-E. contributed to lander modes and noise. Additional seismological contributions were from L.M., E.S., M.D., M.S., S.B., T.W. and J.B.M. Martian velocity models and discussions were contributed by A.K., A.R., H.S., T. Gudkova, S.K., F.N. and D.A. MSDS services were operated by C. Pardo and V.C., while T. Gabsi led the VBB operations at IPGP and contributed to the tests and Mars commissioning. L.L., C.F., C.A. and P.C. performed SISMOC ground services. E. Barrett contributed to SEIS operations and C.Y. led SEIS operations. Methods were contributed by J.F.C., S.C., S.C.S., M.v.D., C.C., W.T.P. and P.L. Supplementary Section 1 was contributed by P.L., R.F.G., W.T.P., C.C., A.E.S., S.C. and S.C.S., Supplementary Section 2 by A.K., A.R. and H.S., Supplementary Section 3 by M.B. and S.C.S. and Supplementary Section 4 by C. Perrin, A.J. and M.K. All authors read and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to D. Giardini.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig 1 Analysis of the seismic event observed on Sol 189.

a, Acceleration spectrogram for entire sol (top) and zoom around the event (bottom) with event start and end times (utc) marked. b, Three component seismic channels in m/s (VBB, 20 sps) with MQS phase picks and uncertainties. c, Auxiliary channels used when analysing the data. Timing of b and c match the bottom spectrogram in a. VBB is the very broadband seismometer, and MAG1/2/3 are the three magnetometer channels. The only lander activity during the event period (UHF communication) is marked with shaded area on the MAG channels. Time span shown in Extended Data Fig. 2 is marked in the 24hour window at the top of a.

Extended Data Fig 2 Comparison of wind and seismic data in a 5-hour period centred around the seismic event on Sol 189.

a, Wind speed (black) and direction (green), b, vertical 20sps VBB data with 1s high pass (blue) and 1s low pass (red) filters, c and d, spectrogram of seismic channel. The wind speed is below 2.8 m/s for the majority of the seismic event, as it is for much of quiet evening period. While a wind direction change of 30 degrees was recorded during the event by the TWINS sensor, the longer context shows that this is occurring about once per hour and is likely an artefact of the sensor at very low wind speeds. As described in [4], the TWINS sensor does not report reliable wind speeds and directions below a wind speed of 2.8 m/s.

Extended Data Fig 3 Event S0235a waveform and polarisation summary.

a shows VBB vertical time series indicating the picks associated to P and S phases. b and c show horizontal hodograms for P and S windows respectively. The time windows used to produce the hodograms are indicated by the grey shaded regions on a. The event back azimuth is indicated in the red dotted line in b and c, matching the first P-wave motion. A 2-5s bandpass filter is applied.

Extended Data Fig 4 List of events analysed in this paper.

Event quality is as defined in the Methods section. The aligned distances follow Fig. 3, while the distance, back azimuth and phase picks from the MQS catalogue are provided when available. The moment magnitude (MW) is based on the spectral magnitude except for those events marked with an asterisk, that are derived from the 2.4Hz magnitude (Supplementary Information SI3).

Extended Data Fig 5 SNR values for the events analysed in this paper.

Frequency range used for computing the spectral envelopes are listed in the second and third columns. Four different SNR types computed using maxima and means of signal and noise, as well as maxima of P- and S envelopes are also given with the start and end times of the signal used. Events with little or no S-wave energy are also evident from the relative amplitude of SNRs (shaded cells).

Extended Data Fig 6 Alignment of events with P-wave arrivals using vertical spectral envelopes.

a, All events with P-wave energy aligned on a reference line; events are equally spaced sorted by distance; for each event we indicate the frequency band used to derive the spectral envelope and the amplification used in the display, so that all P waves have the same amplitude; glitches and the following S-wave are blanked out. b, P-wave envelopes overlapped for four of the events in the left panel; envelope amplitudes are re-scaled to show the similarity; S0173a and S0235b have clear P- and S-wave arrivals, while we observe only a strong first phase for S0183a and S0205a, interpreted as P-phase, and a weak second phase, interpreted as S-phase. The colour code of the events is the same used in Fig. 3. The spectral window length in b is 40 s to increase the visibility of the S-wave onsets.

Extended Data Fig 7 Alignment of events using their S-wave envelopes along a reference line.

The top four events have significantly longer S-wave envelopes. S0183a and S0205a are not included as these events do not display a clearly visible S-wave. The colour code of the events is the same used in Fig. 3.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary information with four sections for detailing the manuscript further. Related figures and tables are included in the file in text.

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Giardini, D., Lognonné, P., Banerdt, W.B. et al. The seismicity of Mars. Nat. Geosci. 13, 205–212 (2020).

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