Did ice streams carve martian outflow channels?

By: , and 



Outflow channels on Mars1 are long sinuous linear depressions that occur mostly in the equatorial area (±30° lat.). They differ from small valley networks2 by being larger and arising full born from chaotic terrains. Outflow channels resemble terrestrial stream beds, and their origin has generally been attributed to water3–5 in catastrophic floods6,7 or mudflows8. The catastrophic-flood hypothesis is derived primarily from the morphological similarities of martian outflow channels and features created by the catastrophic Spokane flood that formed the Washington scablands. These similarities have been documented extensively3,6,7, but differences of scale remain a major problem: martian channel features are on the average much larger than their proposed terrestrial analogues. We examine here the problem of channel origin from the perspective of erosional characteristics and the resultant landf orms created by former and present-day ice streams and glaciers on Earth. From morphologic comparisons, an ice-stream origin seems equally well suited to explain the occurrences and form of the outflow channels on Mars, and in contrast with the hydraulic hypothesis, ice streams and ice sheets produce terrestrial features of the same scale as those observed on Mars.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Did ice streams carve martian outflow channels?
Series title Nature
DOI 10.1038/290759a0
Volume 290
Issue 5809
Year Published 1981
Language English
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 5 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Nature
First page 759
Last page 763
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