Identifying Martian gully evolution

Aston, A. H.; Conway, S. J. and Balme, M. R. (2011). Identifying Martian gully evolution. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 356(1) pp. 151–169.



Martian gullies are small-scale, geologically recent features characterized by the alcove-channel-apron morphology associated with flows with a component of liquid water. Theories advanced to explain Martian gully formation include groundwater processes and melting of near-surface ice due to climate variation. Gullies are often associated with ‘mantling terrain’ that drapes topography at mid to high latitudes and which has been proposed to be ice-rich.

We have morphologically classified Martian gullies into four groupings according to whether they form solely within the mantle (Type A), erode into ‘bedrock’ (Type B), and by how well developed they appear (1 or 2). Orientation, length, geological setting and latitude were also recorded, as well as whether more than one generation of gullies formed on a given slope (labelled ‘reactivated’).

About 25% of gullies form solely within the mantle; these are generally shorter than gullies that erode bedrock and the morphologically simplest gullies (A1) are the shortest. We present latitude and orientation trends for the most recent episode of gully formation. We suggest that this recent activity is probably controlled by either deposition of ice-rich material or degradation of pre-existing ice-rich material.

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