Persistence of intense, climate-driven runoff late in Mars history

Science Advances
By: , and 



Mars is dry today, but numerous precipitation-fed paleo-rivers are found across the planet’s surface. These rivers’ existence is a challenge to models of planetary climate evolution. We report results indicating that, for a given catchment area, rivers on Mars were wider than rivers on Earth today. We use the scale (width and wavelength) of Mars paleo-rivers as a proxy for past runoff production. Using multiple methods, we infer that intense runoff production of >(3–20) kg/m2 per day persisted until <3 billion years (Ga) ago and probably <1 Ga ago, and was globally distributed. Therefore, the intense runoff production inferred from the results of the Mars Science Laboratory rover was not a short-lived or local anomaly. Rather, precipitation-fed runoff production was globally distributed, was intense, and persisted intermittently over >1 Ga. Our improved history of Mars’ river runoff places new constraints on the unknown mechanism that caused wet climates on Mars.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Persistence of intense, climate-driven runoff late in Mars history
Series title Science Advances
DOI 10.1126/sciadv.aav7710
Volume 5
Issue 3
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher AAAS
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description eaav7710, 8 p.