We have constructed the complex geologic history of the Thaumasia region of Mars on the basis of detailed geologic mapping and relative-age dating of rock units and structure. The Thaumasia plateau dominates the region and consists of high lava plains partly surrounded by rugged highlands, mostly of Noachian and Hesperian age. Long-lived faulting centered near Syria Planum and at lesser sites produced radiating narrow grabens during the Noachian through Early Amazonian and concentric wrinkle ridges during the Late Noachian and Early Hesperian. Fault activity peaked during the Noachian and waned substantially during Late Hesperian and Amazonian time. Volcanism on the Thaumasia plateau was particularly active in comparison with other martian cratered highlands, resulting in fourteen volcanoes and numerous outcrops of smooth, ridged, and lobate plains materials. A particularly extensive set of overlapping lava-flow units was emplaced sequentially from Thaumasia Planum to Syria Planum, spanning from the Late Noachian to the Late Hesperian; lobate flows succeeded smooth flow at the beginning of the Late Hesperian. Deep crustal intrusion and a thickened, buoyant crust may have caused the uplift of the plateau during the Noachian and Early Hesperian, resulting in outward-verging fold-and-thrust plateau margins. This structural style appears similar to that of the young ranges of the Rocky Mountains in the western U.S. Within the plateau, several sites of volcanotectonic activity and valley erosion may be underlain by large and perhaps long-lived magmatic intrusions. One such site occurs at the headland of Warrego Valles. Here, at least two episodes of valley dissection from the Noachian to Early Hesperian occurred during the formation of two nearby rift systems. The site also is a locus of intersection for regional narrow grabens during the Late Noachian and Early Hesperian. However, at the site, such faults diverge or terminate, which suggests that a resistant body of rock occurs there. The overall volcanotectonic history at Thaumasia fits into a model for Tharsis as a whole in which long-lived Syria Planum-centered activity is ringed by a few significant, shorter-lived centers of activity like the Thaumasia plateau. Valley formation, like tectonism in the region, peaked during the Noachian and declined substantially during the Hesperian and Amazonian. Temporal and spatial associations of single erosional valleys and valley networks with volcanoes, rift systems, and large impact craters suggest that the majority of valleys formed by hydrothermal, deformational, and seismic-induced processes. The origin of scattered, mainly Noachian valleys is more conjectural; possible explanations include local precipitation, seismic disturbance of aquifers, or unrecognized intrusions. ?? 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Geology of the Thaumasia region, Mars: Plateau development, valley origins, and magmatic evolution