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3D Reconstruction of the Source and Scale of Buried Young Flood Channels on Mars

Science  07 Mar 2013:
pp.
DOI: 10.1126/science.1234787

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Abstract

Outflow channels on Mars are interpreted as the product of gigantic floods due to the catastrophic eruption of groundwater that may also have initiated episodes of climate change. Marte Vallis, the largest of the young martian outflow channels (<500 Ma), is embayed by lava flows that hinder detailed studies and comparisons with older channel systems. Understanding Marte Vallis is essential to our assessment of recent Mars hydrologic activity during a period otherwise considered to be cold and dry. Using the SHARAD sounding radar, we present a three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of buried channels on Mars and provide estimates of paleo-hydrologic parameters. Our work shows that Cerberus Fossae provided the waters that carved Marte Vallis, and extended an additional 180 kilometers to the east prior to the emplacement of the younger lava flows. We identify two stages of channel incision and determine that channel depths were more than twice that of previous estimates.

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