Gridmapping the Northern Plains of Mars: A New Overview of Recent Water- and Ice-Related Landforms in Acidalia Planitia

Orgel, Csilla; Hauber, Ernst; van Gasselt, Stephan; Reiss, Dennis; Johnsson, Andreas; Ramsdale, Jason D.; Smith, Isaac; Swirad, Zuzanna M.; Séjourné, Antoine; Wilson, Jack T.; Balme, Matthew R.; Conway, Susan J.; Costard, Francois; Eke, Vince R.; Gallagher, Colman; Kereszturi, Ákos; Łosiak, Anna; Massey, Richard J.; Platz, Thomas; Skinner, James A. and Teodoro, Luis F. A. (2019). Gridmapping the Northern Plains of Mars: A New Overview of Recent Water- and Ice-Related Landforms in Acidalia Planitia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 124(2) pp. 454–482.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JE005664

Abstract

We used a grid-mapping technique to analyze the distribution of thirteen water- and ice-related landforms in Acidalia Planitia as part of a joint effort to study the three main basins in the northern lowlands of Mars, i.e. Acidalia, Utopia, and Arcadia Planitiae. The landforms were mapped at full CTX resolution along a 300 km-wide strip from 20°N to 84°N. We identified four landform assemblages: (1) 'Geologically recent' polar cap (massive ice) which superposes the LDM (LA1); (2) Ice-related landforms, such as LDM, textured terrain, small-scale polygons, scalloped terrain, large-scale VFF, and gullies, which have an overlapping distribution (LA2); (3) Surface features possibly related to water and subsurface sediment mobilization (LA3) (km-scale polygons, LPM, SPM, TPT); and (4) Irregularly-shaped pits with raised rims on equator-facing slopes. Pits are likely the result of an energetic release of volatiles (H2O, CO2, CH4), rather than impact-, volcanism-, or wind-related processes. LDM occurs ubiquitously from 44°N to 78°N in Acidalia Planitia. Various observations suggest an origin of air-fall deposition of LDM, which contains less ice in the uppermost tens of meters in Acidalia Planitia, than in Arcadia and Utopia Planitiae. However, LDM may be thicker and more extended in the past in Acidalia Planitia. The transition between LDM-free terrain and LDM is situated further north than in Utopia and Arcadia Planitiae, suggesting different past and/or present climatic conditions among the main basins in the northern lowlands.

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