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The Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands of northern Canada: A possible “wet” periglacial analog of Utopia Planitia, Mars

By
Richard J. Soare
Richard J. Soare
1 Department of Geography, Dawson College, 3040 Sherbrooke Street, West, Montreal, Quebec H3Z 1A4, Canada, and Unité Mixte de Recherche, 8148, Interaction et Dynamique des Environnements de Surface, Université Paris-Sud 11, Orsay 91400, France
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Antoine Séjourné
Antoine Séjourné
2 Unité Mixte de Recherche, 8148, Interaction et Dynamique des Environnements de Surface, Université Paris-Sud 11, Orsay 91400, France
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Geoffrey Pearce
Geoffrey Pearce
3 Department of Earth Sciences, University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, London, Ontario N6A 5B7, Canada
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François Costard
François Costard
2 Unité Mixte de Recherche, 8148, Interaction et Dynamique des Environnements de Surface, Université Paris-Sud 11, Orsay 91400, France
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Gordon R. Osinski
Gordon R. Osinski
3 Department of Earth Sciences, University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, London, Ontario N6A 5B7, Canada
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Published:
December 01, 2011

Numerous landforms with traits that are suggestive of formation by periglacial processes have been observed in Utopia Planitia, Mars. They include: small-sized polygons, flat-floored depressions, and polygon trough or junction pits. Most workers agree that these landforms are late Amazonian and mark the occurrence of near-surface regolith that is (was) ice rich. The evolution of the Martian landforms has been explained principally by two disparate hypotheses. The first is the “wet hypothesis.” It is derived from the boundary conditions and ice-rich landscape of regions such as the Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands, Canada, where stable liquid water is freely available as an agent of landscape modification. The second is the “dry” hypothesis. It is adapted from the boundary conditions and landscape-modification processes in the glacial Dry Valleys of the Antarctic, where mean temperatures are much colder than in the Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands, liquid water at or near the surface is rare, and sublimation is the principal agent of glacial mass loss. Here, we (1) describe the ice-rich landscape of the Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands and their principal periglacial features; (2) show that these features constitute a coherent assemblage produced by thaw-freeze cycles; (3) describe the landforms of Utopia Planitia and evaluate the extent to which “wet” or “dry” periglacial processes could have contributed to their formation; and (4) suggest that even if questions concerning the “wet” or “dry” origin of the Martian landforms remain open, “dry” processes are incapable of explaining the origin of the ice-rich regolith itself, from which the landforms evolved.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

Analogs for Planetary Exploration

W. Brent Garry
W. Brent Garry
Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona, USA
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Jacob E. Bleacher
Jacob E. Bleacher
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Planetary Geodynamics Lab, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
483
ISBN print:
9780813724836
Publication date:
December 01, 2011

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