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Martian Mantle Heat Flow Estimate From the Lack of Lithospheric Flexure in the South Pole of Mars: Implications for Planetary Evolution and Basal Melting

Ojha, Lujendra and Karimi, Saman and Buffo, Jacob and Nerozzi, Stefano and Holt, John W. and Smrekar, Sue and Chevrier, Vincent (2021) Martian Mantle Heat Flow Estimate From the Lack of Lithospheric Flexure in the South Pole of Mars: Implications for Planetary Evolution and Basal Melting. Geophysical Research Letters, 48 (2). Art. No. e2020GL091409. ISSN 0094-8276.

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Heat flow measurements are important for our understanding of planetary interior composition, structure, and evolution. In the absence of direct measurement, a first‐order estimate of a planet's interior heat flow can be made by modeling the lithosphere's viscoelastic response to stress exerted by large surface loads. Here, we model the Martian lithosphere's viscoelastic response to the south polar layered deposits and estimate the local mantle heat flow to be less than ∼10 mW/m². Combined with our previous estimate of the low mantle heat flow from the north polar region (∼7 mW/m²), our results suggest that the Martian mantle may be globally depleted in heat‐producing elements. The relatively low mantle heat flow has significant implications for Mars' long‐term thermal evolution and on the possibility of basal melting in the south polar region.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemRadar data
Ojha, Lujendra0000-0003-2086-4546
Karimi, Saman0000-0001-9995-5066
Buffo, Jacob0000-0002-3234-3417
Nerozzi, Stefano0000-0003-1236-535X
Smrekar, Sue0000-0001-8775-075X
Chevrier, Vincent0000-0002-1111-587X
Additional Information:© 2020 American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 18 January 2021; Version of Record online: 18 January 2021; Accepted manuscript online: 14 December 2020; Manuscript accepted: 08 December 2020; Manuscript revised: 05 December 2020; Manuscript received: 26 October 2020. The authors are grateful to Dr. Steven Hauck II for his assistance with the computational facilities. The authors also thank Michael Sori and an anonymous reviewer whose comments helped improve and clarify this manuscript. Data Availability Statement: The radar data used in this work may be obtained from NASA PDS website at The flexure profiles may be obtained from the corresponding author.
Subject Keywords:brine; flexure; heatflow; lakes; lithosphere; Mars
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210128-110839264
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Ojha, L., Karimi, S., Buffo, J., Nerozzi, S., Holt, J. W., Smrekar, S., & Chevrier, V. (2021). Martian mantle heat flow estimate from the lack of lithospheric flexure in the south pole of Mars: Implications for planetary evolution and basal melting. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2020GL091409.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107785
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:28 Jan 2021 22:27
Last Modified:28 Jan 2021 22:27

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