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The global distribution of depositional rivers on early Mars

Dickson, J. L. and Lamb, M. P. and Williams, R. M. E. and Hayden, A. T and Fischer, W. W. (2021) The global distribution of depositional rivers on early Mars. Geology, 49 (5). pp. 504-509. ISSN 0091-7613. doi:10.1130/G48457.1.

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Sedimentary basins are the archives of ancient environmental conditions on planetary surfaces, and on Mars they may contain the best record of surface water and habitable conditions. While erosional valley networks have been mapped, the global distribution of fluvial sedimentary deposits on Mars has been unknown. Here we generated an eight-trillion-pixel global map of Mars using data from the NASA Context Camera (CTX), aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, to perform the first systematic global survey of fluvial ridges—exhumed ancient deposits that have the planform shape of river channels or channel belts, but stand in positive relief due to preferential erosion of neighboring terrain. We used large fluvial ridges (>70 m width) as a conservative proxy for the occurrence of depositional rivers or river-influenced depositional areas. Results showed that fluvial ridges are as much as 100 km long, common across the southern highlands, occur primarily in networks within intercrater plains, and are not confined to impact basins. Ridges were dominantly found in Noachian through Late Hesperian units, consistent with cessation of valley network activity, and occurred downstream from valley networks, indicating regional source-to-sink transport systems. These depositional areas mark a globally distributed class of sedimentary deposits that contain a rich archive of Mars history, including fluvial activity on early Mars.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Lamb, M. P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Williams, R. M. E.0000-0003-1571-6952
Hayden, A. T0000-0003-3540-7807
Fischer, W. W.0000-0002-8836-3054
Additional Information:© 2020 Geological Society of America. Manuscript received 25 June 2020; Revised manuscript received 30 September 2020; Manuscript accepted 12 October 2020. We thank three anonymous reviewers and the editor for thorough and helpful reviews of this work. We appreciate support from NASA grant NNX16G for this research, and graduate fellowship 80NSSC17K0492 to Hayden.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Issue or Number:5
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201222-142915030
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Official Citation:J.L. Dickson, M.P. Lamb, R.M.E. Williams, A.T. Hayden, W.W. Fischer; The global distribution of depositional rivers on early Mars. Geology 2020; 49 (5): 504–509. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107259
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Dec 2020 23:07
Last Modified:19 Apr 2021 19:00

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