Episodes of floods in Mangala Valles, Mars, from the analysis of HRSC, MOC and THEMIS images

Planetary and Space Science

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DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2008.07.023



The Mangala Valles is a 900-km long outflow channel system in the highlands adjacent to the south-eastern flank of the Tharsis bulge. This work was intended to answer the following two questions unresolved in previous studies: (1) Was there only one source of water (Mangala Fossa at the valley head which is one of the Medusae Fossae troughs or graben) or were other sources also involved in the valley-carving water supply, and (2) Was there only one episode of flooding (maybe with phases) or were there several episodes significantly separated in time. The geologic analysis of HRSC image 0286 and mapping supported by analysis of MOC and THEMIS images show that Mangala Valles was carved by water released from several sources. The major source was Mangala Fossa, which probably formed in response to magmatic dike intrusion. The graben cracked the cryosphere and permitted the release of groundwater held under hydrostatic pressure. This major source was augmented by a few smaller-scale sources at localities in (1) two mapped heads of magmatic dikes, (2) heads of two clusters of sinuous channels, and (3) probably several large knob terrain locals. The analysis of results of crater counts at more than 60 localities showed that the first episode of formation of Mangala Valles occurred ???3.5 Ga ago and was followed by three more episodes, one occurred ???1 Ga ago, another one ???0.5 Ga ago, and the last one ???0.2 Ga ago. East of the mapped area there are extended and thick lava flows whose source may be the eastern continuation of the Mangala source graben. Crater counts in 10 localities on these lava flows correlate with those taken on the Mangala valley elements supporting the idea that the valley head graben was caused by dike intrusions. Our observations suggest that the waning stage of the latest flooding episode (???0.2 Ga ago) led to the formation at the valley head of meander-like features sharing some characteristics with meanders of terrestrial rivers. If this analogy is correct this could suggest a short episode of global warming in Late Amazonian time. ?? 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Episodes of floods in Mangala Valles, Mars, from the analysis of HRSC, MOC and THEMIS images
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Planetary and Space Science
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