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Gullies, polygons and mantles in Martian permafrost environments: cold desert landforms and sedimentary processes during recent Martian geological history

By
J. S. Levy
J. S. Levy
Department of Geology, Portland State University, 1721 SW Broadway, Cramer Hall Room 17, Portland, OR 97201, USA
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J. W. Head
J. W. Head
Department of Geological Sciences, Brown University, 324 Brook Street, Providence, RI 02912, USA
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D. R. Marchant
D. R. Marchant
Department of Earth Science, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2011

Abstract

A range of cold desert landforms are found on the Martian surface that have been interpreted to indicate prevailing frozen and hyper-arid conditions for at least the past several million years. These cold desert conditions are punctuated by brief periods of localized surficial liquid water flow. Sediment transport pathways operate under these conditions of extreme cold and aridity and the processes involved generate permafrost landforms that are recognizable from spacecraft at local, regional and global scales. Thermal-contraction-crack polygons are associated with hemisphere-spanning mantle units that contain excess ice in the immediate subsurface. Sublimation is the dominant phase transition rather than melting under present Martian conditions. Evidence is presented for melting of near-surface snow, frost and/or ground ice in protected gully alcove microclimates during the most recent several million years.

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Contents

Geological Society Special Publication

Ice-Marginal and Periglacial Processes and Sediments

I. P. Martini
I. P. Martini
University of Guelph, Canada
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H. M. French
H. M. French
University of Guelph, Canada
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A. PéRez Alberti
A. PéRez Alberti
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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Geological Society of London
Volume
354
ISBN electronic:
9781862396029
Publication date:
January 01, 2011

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