Observations permitted by the newly acquired Mars Observer Laser Altimeter data have revealed a system of gigantic valleys northwest of the huge Martian shield volcano, Arsia Mons, in the western hemisphere of Mars (northwestern slope valleys (NSVs)). These features, which generally correspond spatially to gravity lows, are obscured by veneers of materials including volcanic lava flows, air fall deposits, and eolian materials. Geologic investigations of the Tharsis region suggest that the system of gigantic valleys predates the construction of Arsia Mons and its extensive associated lava flows of mainly late Hesperian and Amazonian age and coincides stratigraphically with the early development of the outflow channels that debouch into Chryse Planitia. Similar to the previously identified outflow channels, which issued tremendous volumes of water into topographic lows such as Chryse Planitia, the NSVs potentially represent flooding of immense magnitude and, as such, a source of water for a northern plains ocean.
Additional Publication Details
Latent outflow activity for western Tharsis, Mars: Significant flood record exposed