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Insights into surface runoff on early Mars from paleolake basin morphology and stratigraphy

Timothy A. Goudge, Caleb I. Fassett, James W. Head, John F. Mustard and Kelsey L. Aureli
Insights into surface runoff on early Mars from paleolake basin morphology and stratigraphy
Geology (Boulder) (April 2016) 44 (6): 419-422


We present observations on the morphology and stratigraphy of more than 400 paleolake basins on Mars. We show that there are two distinct classes of Martian paleolake basins: (1) paleolakes fed by regionally integrated valley networks (N = 251), and (2) paleolakes fed by isolated inlet valleys not integrated into broader regional drainage systems (N = 174). We conclude that valley network-fed paleolakes primarily formed prior to approximately the Noachian-Hesperian boundary, ca. 3.7 Ga, while isolated inlet valley paleolakes primarily formed later in Martian history. All 174 isolated inlet valley paleolakes are closed-basin lakes; however, there are surprisingly few (31) valley network-fed closed-basin lakes compared to a large number (220) of valley network-fed open-basin lakes. This observation is consistent with declining levels of fluvial activity over time on the Martian surface. Our results imply that during the era of valley network formation, approximately 90% of topographic basins breached by an inlet valley had sufficiently high ratios of water influx to losses to fill, overtop, and form an outlet valley. This conclusion provides an important constraint on the balance between surface runoff production and water losses on early Mars that must be satisfied by any model of the early Martian climate and hydrologic cycle.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 44
Serial Issue: 6
Title: Insights into surface runoff on early Mars from paleolake basin morphology and stratigraphy
Affiliation: Brown University, Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, Providence, RI, United States
Pages: 419-422
Published: 20160419
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 26
Accession Number: 2016-054094
Categories: Extraterrestrial geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2016136
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch maps
Secondary Affiliation: Mount Holyoke College, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201626
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