This article discusses image, topographic, and spectral data from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission that provide new information concerning the surface age, geomorphology, and topography of the Juventae Chasma/Maja Valles system. Our study utilizes data from two instruments on board MGS: images from the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) and topography from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA). Within Maja Valles we can now observe depositional bars with megaripples that unequivocally show catastrophic floods occurred in the channel. Viking impact crater densities indicated the chasma and channel floor areas were all one age (late Hesperian to Amazonian); however, MOC data indicate a marked difference in densities of small craters between Juventae Chasma, Maja Valles, and the channel debouchment area in Chryse Planitia basin. Although other processes may contribute to crater variability, young resurfacing events in the chasma and episodes of recent erosion at Maja Valles channel head may possibly account for the disparate crater densities along the chasma/channel system. Relatively young volcanic eruptions may have contributed to resurfacing; as in Juventae Chasma, a small possible volcanic cone of young dark material is observed. MOC data also indicate previously unknown interior layered deposit mounds in the chasma that indicate at least two periods of mound formation. Finally, MOLA topography shows that the entire floor of the chasma lies at the same elevation as the channel debouchment area in Chryse basin, resulting in a 3-km-high barrier to water flow out of the chasma. Blocked ponded water would rapidly freeze in the current (and likely past) climate of Mars. For catastrophic flow to occur in Maja Valles, some process is required to melt ice and induce floods out of the chasma. We suggest subice volcanic eruption and calculate estimates of water discharges and volumes that these eruptions might have produced.
Additional publication details
Possible Juventae Chasma subice volcanic eruptions and Maja Valles ice outburst floods on Mars: Implications of Mars Global surveyor crater densities, geomorphology, and topography