Coils and Polygonal Crust in the Athabasca Valles Region, Mars, as Evidence for a Volcanic History

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Science  27 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6080, pp. 449-452
DOI: 10.1126/science.1219437

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Athabasca Valles is a near-equatorial martian outflow channel that contains many well-preserved features whose formation and composition have been a point of contention. Large plates of terrain that have clearly fractured and drifted may have once been ice rafts or the rocky solidification crust of a large lava flow. We have identified 269 spiral coils ranging from 5 to 30 meters wide on the polygonally patterned interplate terrain that are morphologically consistent with terrestrial lava coils that form in zones of flow shear. This patterned terrain also exhibits signs of fracture and drift, indicating that it is platelike as well. The coils in the Athabasca region are inconsistent with ice rheology, and the plates, spirals, and polygons are interpreted to be of volcanic origin.

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