Gridmapping the northern plains of Mars: Geomorphological, Radar and Water-Equivalent Hydrogen results from Arcadia Plantia

Ramsdale, Jason D.; Balme, Matthew R.; Gallagher, Colman; Conway, Susan J.; Smith, Isaac B.; Hauber, Ernst; Orgel, Csilla; Séjourné, Antoine; Costard, Francois; Eke, Vince R.; van Gasseltg, Stephan A.; Johnsson, Andreas; Kereszturi, Akos; Losiak, Anna; Massey, Richard J.; Platz, Thomas; Reiss, Dennis; Swirad, Zuzanna M.; Teodoro, Luis F. A. and Wilson, Jack T. (2019). Gridmapping the northern plains of Mars: Geomorphological, Radar and Water-Equivalent Hydrogen results from Arcadia Plantia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 124(2) pp. 504–527.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JE005663

Abstract

A project of mapping ice-related landforms was undertaken to understand the role of sub-surface ice in the northern plains. This work is the first continuous regional mapping from CTX (“ConTeXt Camera”, 6 m/pixel; Malin et al., 2007) imagery in Arcadia Planitia along a strip 300 km across stretching from 30°N to 80°N centred on the 170° West line of longitude. The distribution and morphotypes of these landforms were used to understand the permafrost cryolithology. The mantled and textured signatures occur almost ubiquitously between 35° N and 78° N and have a positive spatial correlation with inferred ice stability based on thermal modelling, neutron spectroscopy and radar data. The degradational features into the LDM (Latitude Dependent Mantle) include pits, scallops and 100 m polygons and provide supporting evidence for sub-surface ice and volatile loss between 35-70° N in Arcadia with the mantle between 70-78° N appearing much more intact. Pitted terrain appears to be much more pervasive in Arcadia than in Acidalia and Utopia suggesting that the Arcadia study area had more wide-spread near-surface sub-surface ice, and thus was more susceptible to pitting, or that the ice was less well-buried by sediments. Correlations with ice stability models suggest that lack of pits north of 65-70° N could indicate a relatively young age (~1Ma), however this could also be explained through regional variations in degradation rates. The deposition of the LDM is consistent with an airfall hypothesis however there appears to be substantial evidence for fluvial processes in southern Arcadia with older, underlying processes being equally dominant with the LDM and degradation thereof in shaping the landscape.

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