Interpretation of the polar stratigraphy of Mars in terms of global climate changes is complicated by the significant difference in surface ages between the north and south polar layered terrains inferred from crater statistics. We have reassessed the cratering record in both polar regions using Viking Orbiter and Mariner 9 images. No craters have been found in the north polar layered terrain, but the surface of most of the south polar layered deposits appears to have been stable for many of the orbital/axial cycles that are thought to have induced global climate changes on Mars. The inferred surface age of the south polar layered deposits (about 10 Ma) is two orders of magnitude greater than the surface age of the north polar layered deposits and residual cap (at most 100 ka). Similarly, modeled resurfacing rates are at least 20 times greater in the north than in the south. These results are consistent with the hypotheses that polar layered deposit resurfacing rates are highest in areas covered by perennial ice and that the differences in polar resurfacing rates result from the 6.4 km difference in elevation between the polar regions. Deposition on the portion of the south polar layered deposits that is not covered by the perennial ice cap may have ceased about 5 million years ago when the obliquity of Mars no longer exceeded 40??. ?? 2000 Academic Press.
Additional Publication Details
Surface Ages and Resurfacing Rates of the Polar Layered Deposits on Mars