Mars Global Surveyor images, with resolutions as high as 1.5 m pixel, enable characterization of martian channels and valleys at resolutions one to two orders of magnitude better than was previously possible. A major surprise is the near-absence of valleys a few hundred meters wide and narrower. The almost complete absence of fine-scale valleys could be due to lack of precipitation, destruction of small valleys by erosion, or dominance of infiltration over surface runoff. V-shaped valleys with a central channel, such as Nanedi Vallis, provide compelling evidence for sustained or episodic flow of water across the surface. Larger valleys appear to have formed not by headward erosion as a consequence of groundwater sapping but by erosion from water sources upstream of the observed sections. The freshest appearing valleys have triangular cross sections, with talus from opposing walls meeting at the center of the valley. The relations suggest that the width of the valleys is controlled by the depth of incision and the angle of repose of the walls. The flat floors of less fresh-appearing valleys result primarily from later eolian fill. Several discontinuous valleys and lines of craters suggest massive subsurface solution or erosion. The climatic implications of the new images will remain obscure until the cause for the scarcity of fine-scale dissection is better understood. ?? 2000 Academic Press.
Additional publication details
Meter-Scale Characteristics of Martian Channels and Valleys