The indication of Martian gully formation processes by slope–area analysis
Susan J. Conway, Matthew R. Balme, John B. Murray, Martin C. Towner, Chris H. Okubo, Peter M. Grindrod, 2011. "The indication of Martian gully formation processes by slope–area analysis", Martian Geomorphology, M. R. Balme, A. S. Bargery, C. J. Gallagher, S. Gupta
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The formation process of recent gullies on Mars is currently under debate. This study aims to discriminate between the proposed formation processes – pure water flow, debris flow and dry mass wasting – through the application of geomorphological indices commonly used in terrestrial geomorphology. High-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) of Earth and Mars were used to evaluate the drainage characteristics of small slope sections. Data from Earth were used to validate the hillslope, debris-flow and alluvial process domains previously found for large fluvial catchments on Earth, and these domains were applied to gullied and ungullied slopes on Mars. In accordance with other studies, our results indicate that debris flow is one of the main processes forming the Martian gullies that were being examined. The source of the water is predominantly distributed surface melting, not an underground aquifer. Evidence is also presented indicating that other processes may have shaped Martian crater slopes, such as ice-assisted creep and solifluction, in agreement with the proposed recent Martian glacial and periglacial climate. Our results suggest that, within impact craters, different processes are acting on differently oriented slopes, but further work is needed to investigate the potential link between these observations and changes in Martian climate.
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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.