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Canyon Wall and Floor Debris Deposits in Aeolis Mons, Mars

Hughes, M. N. and Arvidson, R. E. and Dietrich, W. E. and Lamb, M. P. and Catalano, J. G. and Grotzinger, J. P. and Bryk, A. B. (2022) Canyon Wall and Floor Debris Deposits in Aeolis Mons, Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, 127 (2). Art. No. e2021JE006848. ISSN 2169-9097. doi:10.1029/2021je006848.

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Aeolis Mons (informally, Mount Sharp) exhibits a number of canyons, including Gediz and Sakarya Valles. Poorly sorted debris deposits are evident on both canyon floors and connect with debris extending down the walls for canyon segments that cut through sulphate-bearing strata. On the floor of Gediz Vallis, debris overfills a central channel and merges with a massive debris ridge located at the canyon terminus. One wall-based debris ridge is evident. In comparison, the floor of Sakarya Vallis exhibits a complex array of debris deposits. Debris deposits on wall segments within Sakarya Vallis are mainly contained within chutes that extend downhill from scarps. Lateral debris ridges are also evident on chute margins. We interpret the debris deposits in the two canyons to be a consequence of one or more late-stage hydrogeomorphic events that increased the probability of landslides, assembled and channelized debris on the canyon floors, and moved materials down-canyon. The highly soluble nature of the sulphate-bearing rocks likely contributed to enhanced debris generation by concurrent aqueous weathering to produce blocky regolith for transport downslope by fluvial activity and landslides, including some landslides that became debris flows. Subsequent wind erosion in Gediz Vallis removed most of the debris deposits within that canyon and partially eroded the deposits within Sakarya Vallis. The enhanced wind erosion within Gediz Vallis was a consequence of the canyon's alignment with prevailing slope winds.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemPlanetary Data System Geosciences Node
Hughes, M. N.0000-0002-9620-2891
Arvidson, R. E.0000-0002-2854-0362
Lamb, M. P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Catalano, J. G.0000-0001-9311-977X
Grotzinger, J. P.0000-0001-9324-1257
Bryk, A. B.0000-0002-2013-7456
Additional Information:© 2022. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Issue Online: 27 January 2022; Version of Record online: 27 January 2022; Accepted manuscript online: 19 January 2022; Manuscript accepted: 09 January 2022; Manuscript revised: 19 November 2021; Manuscript received: 28 January 2021. This research was carried out as part of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Science Team tasks under Contract 1549716 from Caltech/JPL to Washington University in Saint Louis and as part of the MRO/CRISM Science Team under Subcontract 110609 from JHU/APL. M. N. Hughes was supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program through Grant DGE-1745038. M. P. Lamb was funded by NASA Grant 80NSSC19K1269. J. G. Catalano was support by NASA Grant 80NSSC20K0939. A. B. Bryk and W. E. Dietrich were supported by NASA Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Science Team under Subcontract 12-0256 Mars Science Laboratory MastCam/MAHLI and MARDI Investigation from Malin Space Sciences System. The authors thank the Curiosity CRISM operations team for their efforts in acquiring the data needed to complete our research reported in this paper. The authors also thank the NASA Planetary Data System for access to archives necessary to pursue the work efforts. All data reported in this paper are available through the PDS. Data Availability Statement: The data sets used in this study are publicly available through the Planetary Data System Geosciences Node ( The CTX data used are from Malin (2007). The HiRISE data used are from McEwen (2005, 2006, 2009). The HRSC data used are from the European Space Agency (2013, 2020). The HiRISE mosaic over Gale crater is available at the USGS Annex (Calef & Parker, 2016). The HiRISE-derived DTMs over Sakarya Vallis are publicly available through the Zenodo data repository (Hughes, 2021). The product IDs and DOIs of the data sets used in this study are also listed in Table 1.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE-1745038
Subject Keywords:Mars; Geomorphology; Debris Flow
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220120-890516000
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Hughes, M. N., Arvidson, R. E., Dietrich, W. E., Lamb, M. P., Catalano, J. G., Grotzinger, J. P., & Bryk, A. B. (2022). Canyon wall and floor debris deposits in Aeolis Mons, Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 127, e2021JE006848.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113021
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:21 Jan 2022 22:16
Last Modified:09 Feb 2022 17:42

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