Hydrological History of a Palaeolake and Valley System on the Planetary Dichotomy in Arabia Terra, Mars

Dickeson, Z. I.; Grindrod, P. M.; Davis, J. M.; Crawford, I. and Balme, M. (2022). Hydrological History of a Palaeolake and Valley System on the Planetary Dichotomy in Arabia Terra, Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 127(12), article no. e2021JE007152.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2021je007152


Hundreds of ancient palaeolake basins have been identified and cataloged on Mars, indicating the distribution and availability of liquid water as well as sites of astrobiological potential. Palaeolakes are widely distributed across the Noachian aged terrains of the southern highlands, but Arabia Terra hosts few documented palaeolakes and even fewer examples of open‐basin palaeolakes. Here we present a detailed topographic and geomorphological study of a previously unknown set of seven open‐basin palaeolakes adjacent to the planetary dichotomy in western Arabia Terra. High resolution topographic data were used to aid identification and characterization of palaeolakes within subtle and irregular basins, revealing two palaeolake systems terminating at the dichotomy, including a ∼160 km chain of six palaeolakes connected by short valley segments. Analysis and correlation of multiple, temporally distinct palaeolake fill levels within each palaeolake basin indicate a complex and prolonged hydrological history during the Noachian. Drainage catchments and collapse features place this system in the context of regional hydrology and the history of the planetary dichotomy, showing evidence for both groundwater sources and surface accumulation. Furthermore, the arrangement of large palaeolakes fed by far smaller palaeolakes, indicates a consistent flow of water through the system, buffered by reservoirs, rather than a catastrophic overflow of lakes cascading down through the system.

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