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Spatiotemporal evolution, mineralogical composition, and transport mechanisms of long-runout landslides in Valles Marineris, Mars

Watkins, Jessica A. and Ehlmann, Bethany L. and Yin, An (2020) Spatiotemporal evolution, mineralogical composition, and transport mechanisms of long-runout landslides in Valles Marineris, Mars. Icarus, 350 . Art. No. 113836. ISSN 0019-1035. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2020.113836.

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Long-runout landslides with transport distances of >50 km are ubiquitous in Valles Marineris (VM), yet the transport mechanisms remain poorly understood. Four decades of studies reveal significant variation in landslide morphology and emplacement age, but how these variations are related to landslide transport mechanisms is not clear. In this study, we address this question by conducting systematic geological mapping and compositional analysis of VM long-runout landslides using high-resolution Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter imagery and spectral data. Our work shows that: (1) a two-zone morphological division (i.e., an inner zone characterized by rotated blocks and an outer zone expressed by a thin sheet with a nearly flat surface) characterizes all major VM landslides; (2) landslide mobility is broadly dependent on landslide mass; and (3) the maximum width of the outer zone and its transport distance are inversely related to the basal friction that was estimated from the surface slope angle of the outer zone. Our comprehensive Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) compositional analysis indicates that hydrated silicates are common in landslide outer zones and nearby trough-floor deposits. Furthermore, outer zones containing hydrated minerals are sometimes associated with longer runout and increased lateral spreading compared to those without detectable hydrated minerals. Finally, with one exception we find that hydrated minerals are absent in the inner zones of the investigated VM landslides. These results as whole suggest that hydrated minerals may have contributed to the magnitude of lateral spreading and long-distance forward transport of major VM landslides.

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Ehlmann, Bethany L.0000-0002-2745-3240
Additional Information:© 2020 California Institute of Technology. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license ( Received 26 April 2020, Accepted 29 April 2020, Available online 29 May 2020. This project was supported by an National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (DGE-1144087), a Caltech Geological & Planetary Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowship, and a Caltech GPS Chair's Postdoctoral Fellowship & California Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NSF AGEP) Postdoctoral Fellowship to JAW. BLE acknowledges Extended Mission support from the MRO-CRISM project. Thanks to the MRO-CRISM team for acquisition of several requested images in Valles Marineris and to all spacecraft teams who collected the data used herein. Measurements are included as tables in the manuscript; the graphical data products generated and analyzed during this study are available from the authors upon request.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE-1144087
Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary SciencesUNSPECIFIED
California Alliance for Graduate Education and the ProfessoriateUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Landslides; Morphology; Geological processes; Hydrated minerals; Mars
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200529-093558182
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Official Citation:Jessica A. Watkins, Bethany L. Ehlmann, An Yin, Spatiotemporal evolution, mineralogical composition, and transport mechanisms of long-runout landslides in Valles Marineris, Mars, Icarus, Volume 350, 2020, 113836, ISSN 0019-1035, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:103573
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:29 May 2020 17:03
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:22

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