Rivers and Lakes in Western Arabia Terra: The Fluvial Catchment of the ExoMars 2022 Rover Landing Site

Fawdon, Peter; Balme, Matthew; Davis, Joel; Bridges, John; Gupta, Sanjeev and Quantin‐Nataf, Cathey (2022). Rivers and Lakes in Western Arabia Terra: The Fluvial Catchment of the ExoMars 2022 Rover Landing Site. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 127(2), article no. e2021JE007045.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2021je007045


Oxia Planum, the landing site for the ExoMars rover mission, is a shallow basin on the southern margin of Chryse Planitia that hosts remnants of fan-shaped sedimentary deposits associated with the ancient channel system Coogoon Vallis. This indicates runoff from a catchment in Arabia Terra has transported sediment into the landing site. To explore this fluvial system we created a model catchment for Oxia Planum and, using 6 m/pixel ConTeXt camera (CTX) orbital remote sensing image data, we digitised the fluvial and lacustrine landforms in Western Arabia Terra in and around this catchment. We find: (1) The catchment has a minimum area of ∼2.1×105 km2 and has been episodically deformed by tectonic activity; (2) There were at least two phases of fluvial activity. The first created a mature landscape associated with Coogoon Vallis, which may have deposited alluvial or deltaic deposits in the Oxia Basin. After a substantial hiatus, a second phase of activity incised U-section channels into the pre-existing landscape and channel systems; and (3) Evidence for numerous possible paleolake deposits within the catchment. These are not well connected to the fluvial system and were probably sustained by groundwater activity contemporaneous with both phases of fluvial activity. This groundwater might have modified the mineralogy of Oxia Planum. Oxia Planum probably experienced an alluvial or distal deltaic/lacustrine depositional environment during the mid Noachian, which was later overprinted by a younger phase of fluvial activity.

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