Amazonian-aged fluvial system and associated ice-related features in Terra Cimmeria, Mars

Adeli, Solmaz; Hauber, Ernst; Kleinhans, Maarten; Le Deit, Laetitia; Platz, Thomas; Fawdon, Peter and Jaumann, Ralf (2016). Amazonian-aged fluvial system and associated ice-related features in Terra Cimmeria, Mars. Icarus, 277 pp. 286–299.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2016.05.020

Abstract

The Martian climate throughout the Amazonian is widely believed to have been cold and hyper-arid, very similar to the current conditions. However, ubiquitous evidence of aqueous and glacial activity has been recently reported, including channels that can be tens to hundreds of kilometres long, alluvial and fluvial deposits, ice-rich mantles, and glacial and periglacial landforms. Here we study a ∼340 km-long fluvial system located in the Terra Cimmeria region, in the southern mid-latitudes of Mars. The fluvial system is composed of an upstream catchment system with narrow glaciofluvial valleys and remnants of ice-rich deposits. We observe depositional features including fan-shaped deposits, and erosional features such as scour marks and streamlined islands. At the downstream section of this fluvial system is an outflow channel named Kārūn Valles, which displays a unique braided alluvial fan and terminates on the floor of the Ariadnes Colles basin. Our observations point to surface runoff of ice/snow melt as the water source for this fluvial activity. According to our crater size–frequency distribution analysis the entire fluvial system formed during early to middle Amazonian, between ∼1.8+0.2 −0.2 Ga to 510+40 −40 Ma. Hydraulic modelling indicates that the Kārūn Valles and consequently the alluvial fan formation took place in geologically short-term event(s). We conclude that liquid water was present in Terra Cimmeria during the early to middle Amazonian, and that Mars during that time may have undergone several episodic glacial-related events.

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