Stratigraphic relations between lowland plains and highlands, two major types of Martian geologic-terrain units, were not directly distinguishable on Mariner-9 images. Morphologic characteristics and crater densities suggested that the lava plains beneath their eolian cover were younger than adjacent highland rocks, which form a plateau bounded in many places by highly dissected escarpments. Alternatively, the lowland plains could be the older unit and represent a broad erosional surface exhumed by southward retreat of the highlands along their frontal scarp. Viking photos across five areas of the highland-lowland boundary, however, tend to confirm the younger age of the plains-forming lava flows. A time interval of several hundred million years probably occurred between the retreat of the highland scarp and its latest embayment by lava extrusions in the lowlands. ?? 1978.
Additional Publication Details
Mars, highlands-lowlands: Viking contributions to mariner relative age studies