Water ice sublimation-related landforms on Mars
Sublimation-related landforms are ubiquitous on Mars, especially at mid to high latitudes. This paper reviews the main landforms interpreted to form due to sublimation of subsurface ice on Mars. Pits, knobs and dissected terrains are classical landforms thought to form due to subsurface ice sublimation as observed with high-resolution imagery. Sublimation-related processes on Mars are strongly latitude dependent, with sublimation being increasingly important from high (>60°) to low latitudes (down to 25°) due to correspondingly higher mean annual temperatures. Equatorial regions (within 25° latitude) are mainly devoid of any sublimation-related landforms, reflecting an ice-free shallow subsurface. Mean temperatures and water vapour pressure strongly control the sublimation rate, but diffusion and water adsorption are fundamental and vary depending on the regolith porosity and composition, leading to variations in the theoretical depth at which water ice becomes stable. From a geomorphological point of view, this review highlights the importance of subsurface structure (fractures, layering) in the shaping of landforms and in the control of sublimation rates, in addition to usual physicochemical parameters.
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The latest Mars missions are returning data of unprecedented fidelity in their representation of the martian surface. New data include images with spatial resolution better than 30 cm per pixel, stereo imaging-derived terrain models with one meter postings, high-resolution imaging spectroscopy, and RADAR data that reveal subsurface structure. This book reveals how this information is being used to understand the evolution of martian landscapes, and includes topics such as fluvial flooding, permafrost and periglacial landforms, debris flows, deposition and erosion of sedimentary material, and the origin of lineaments on Phobos, the larger martian moon. Contemporary remote sensing data of Mars, on a par with those of Earth, reveal landscapes strikingly similar to regions of our own planet, so this book will be of interest to Earth scientists and planetary scientists alike. An overview chapter summarising Mars’ climate, geology and exploration is included for the benefit of those new to Mars.