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Morphology of chasma walls, Mars

Journal of Research of the U.S. Geological Survey

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Abstract

The landforms developed on the walls of the Valles Marineris system of chasmas are of three major types, which are locally transitional. The most common type is composed of steep spurs and gullies. The dominant process in the formation or modification of this type appears to be the downslope movement of. material under the influence of gravity, resulting in the accumulation of extensive talus deposits. The type is morphologically similar to high, steep terrestrial scarps in desert or alpine environments. The second morphologic type consists of walls dissected by tributary canyons with characteristic V-shaped cross profiles and blunt canyon heads that locally contain lobate deposits. The tributary canyons may be relict features of the time, when the existence of running water was possible on the surface of Mars. The third morphologic type consists of landslide scars forming broad curved or straight recessed sections of chasma wall. This type is accompanied by landslide deposits that form hummocky floors at the base of the recessed sections. The landslides developed at the expense of other wall morphologies. Chains of rimless depressions and craters that parallel the main structural trends of the chasmas are best interpreted as collapse holes. The origin of the chasmas on Mars is conjectural and may have been structural (grabens), but, on the basis of morphologic studies of their walls, it is suggested that most of the present wall configuration is the result of erosional scarp retreat, where erosion follows preestablished structural planes of weakness.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Morphology of chasma walls, Mars
Series title:
Journal of Research of the U.S. Geological Survey
Volume
6
Issue:
5
Year Published:
1978
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Description:
12 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
651
Last page:
662
Other Geospatial:
Mars