Ice-lubricated gravity spreading of the Olympus Mons aureole deposits




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Gravity sliding and spreading at low strain rates can account for the general morphology and structure of the aureoles and basal scarp of Olympus Mons. Detachment sliding could have occurred around the volcano if either pore-fluid pressures were exceptionally high (greater than 90%) or the rocks had very low resistance to shear (about 1 ?? 105 Pa or 1 bar). Because of the vast areal extent and probable shallow depth of the detachment zone, development of ubiquitous, high pore-fluid pressures beneath aureole-forming material was unlikely. However, a zone of sufficiently weak material consisting of about 10% interstitial or interbedded ice could have been present. If so, a simple rheologic model for the aureole deposits can be applied that consists of a thin ductile layer overlain by a thicker brittle layer. According to this model, extensional deformation would have occurred near the shield and compressional deformation in its distal parts. Proximal grabens and distal corrugations on aureole surfaces support this model. A submarine slide at Kitimat Arm, British Columbia, is a valid qualitative analogy for the observed features and inferred emplacement style of the aureole deposits. Ground-ice processes have been considered the cause of many geologic features on Mars; a 3% average concentration of ground ice in the regolith is predicted by theoretical models for the ice budget and cryosphere. Ice may have been deposited in higher concentrations below the aureole-forming material; the source of the ice could have been juvenile water circulated hydrothermally by Olympus Mons volcanism. The basal scarp of Olympus Mons apparently demarcates the transition between the upper, stable part of the shield and its lower part that decoupled and formed the aureole deposits. This transition may reflect a change in the bulk shear strength of the shield, caused either by a radial dependence in the abundance of ice or fluid in the shield materials or by the concentration of intrusive dikes within the volcano. Other Martian volcanoes exhibit virtually no evidence of similar large-scale gravity spreading and basal scarps. Perhaps such evidence, if it existed, has been buried by lava flows, or perhaps the smaller size of other volcanoes did not permit the development of these features. ?? 1985.

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Ice-lubricated gravity spreading of the Olympus Mons aureole deposits
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