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Book Chapter

The indication of Martian gully formation processes by slope–area analysis

By
Susan J. Conway
Susan J. Conway
Earth and Environmental Sciences, Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UKPresent address: Laboratoire de planétologie et géodynamique, CNRS UMR 6112, Université de Nantes, 2 rue de la Houssinière, BP 92208, 44322 Nantes cedex, France
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Matthew R. Balme
Matthew R. Balme
Earth and Environmental Sciences, Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
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John B. Murray
John B. Murray
Earth and Environmental Sciences, Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
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Martin C. Towner
Martin C. Towner
Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Impacts and Astromaterials Research Centre, Imperial College, London SW7 2AZ, UK
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Chris H. Okubo
Chris H. Okubo
Astrogeology Science Center, US Geological Survey, 2255 North Gemini Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
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Peter M. Grindrod
Peter M. Grindrod
Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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Published:
January 01, 2011

Abstract

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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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Martian Geomorphology

M. R. Balme
M. R. Balme
Open University, UK
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A. S. Bargery
A. S. Bargery
Lancaster University, UK
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C. J. Gallagher
C. J. Gallagher
University College Dublin, Ireland
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S. Gupta
S. Gupta
Imperial College London, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
356
ISBN electronic:
9781862396043
Publication date:
January 01, 2011

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