Geomorphological evidence of localized stagnant ice deposits in Terra Cimmeria, Mars

Adeli, Solmaz; Hauber, Ernst; Michael, Gregory G.; Fawdon, Peter; Smith, Isaac B. and Jaumann, Ralf (2019). Geomorphological evidence of localized stagnant ice deposits in Terra Cimmeria, Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 124(6) pp. 1525–1541.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2018je005772

Abstract

The presence of snow and ice at mid‐latitudes of Mars cannot be explained by current climatic conditions, as surface ice is unstable. However, a large variety of debris‐covered glaciers have been observed at both mid‐latitudes. Here, we report the presence of local, small‐scale, and debris‐covered stagnant ice deposits on the floor of a valley system in Terra Cimmeria. These deposits, termed valley fill deposits (VFD), have a distribution that is restricted to the host valley floor and to the extent of the ejecta blanket associated with Tarq impact crater. The VFD are characterized by convex‐upward morphology, various crevasses, sublimation pits, an average area of a few km2, and occasional ejecta streaks on their surface. Our model age estimation points to two possible time frames for the Tarq impact event, thus, we suggest two formation scenarios for VFD: I) distribution of ice due to impact into shallow ice during the Middle Amazonian. II) Post‐impact deposition of VFD due to precipitation. In both scenarios, ice preservation is most likely due to a lag of dust and debris deposited in the valley's topographic lows. Scenario I is more consistent with our geomorphological observation of the VFD being overlain by ejecta streaks. Our results highlight the importance of local geological events and conditions in the distribution and preservation of buried ice deposits on Mars, and suggest that more small‐scale and debris‐covered ice deposits may exist in the mid‐latitudes than previously thought. These deposits are of high importance for future human exploration missions to Mars.

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