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Controls on the Global Distribution of Martian Landslides

Roback, Kevin P. and Ehlmann, Bethany L. (2021) Controls on the Global Distribution of Martian Landslides. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets . ISSN 2169-9097. doi:10.1029/2020JE006675. (In Press)

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Recent acquisition of high‐resolution satellite imagery of the Martian surface has permitted landslides to be studied on a global scale on Mars for the first time. We apply the Scoops3D software package to compute slope stability for select regions of the Martian surface, combining calculations of slope stability with number of observed landslides Crosta et al., 2018a, as reported in a recently published inventory of Martian landslides, to understand controls on the global distribution of landslides on Mars. We find that the distribution of landslides does not simply follow the distribution of unstable slopes. In particular, there is an abundance of landslides around Tharsis, and especially in Valles Marineris and Noctis Labyrinthus, that is not explained by an abundance of unstable topography alone. We analyzed for but did not find a clear large‐scale lithologic or stratigraphic control on landslide occurrence from subsurface heterogeneities. Other possibilities to explain the increased occurrence of landslides in Tharsis include, (1) thin weak unit(s) that are regionally widespread and at multiple stratigraphic levels, such as from interbedded ashes; (2) seismic activity related to the Tharsis’s geological activity, and (3) possible groundwater near Valles Marineris into the Amazonian. Given the apparently young ages of many landslide deposits in Valles Marineris (Quantin et al., 2004), continued modern day analysis of lithologies in Valles Marineris and observations of Martian seismicity may act to strengthen or rebut the first two hypotheses.

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Roback, Kevin P.0000-0001-5209-2873
Ehlmann, Bethany L.0000-0002-2745-3240
Additional Information:© 2021 American Geophysical Union. Accepted manuscript online: 15 April 2021; Manuscript accepted: 07 April 2021; Manuscript revised: 10 March 2021; Manuscript received: 02 September 2020. Thanks to Susan Conway and Matt Golombek for thorough reviews that improved this manuscript. We thank Giovanni Crosta and Paolo Frattini for both providing early access to their Martian landslide inventory prior to its publication, and providing early feedback and critique of this work. We also thank Martin Knapmeyer for providing us with access to his mapped inventory of Martian faults. We also thank Jay Dickson for help in compiling and processing the Mars datasets. Our dataset of slope-stability calculations generated for this work, as well as a list of all HRSC DEMs used and all window-by-window calculations of landslide count and unstable slope abundance, for different choices of the “unstable” slope threshold for all studied regions of Mars is publicly archived: Roback, K. P., and Ehlmann B. L., 2020, Martian Slope Stability Data, version 1.0. CaltechDATA. doi:10.22002/D1.1617.
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210419-123610569
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Official Citation:Roback, K. P., & Ehlmann, B. L. (2021). Controls on the Global Distribution of Martian Landslides. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 126, e2020JE006675.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:108757
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Apr 2021 21:12
Last Modified:19 Apr 2021 21:12

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