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Martian landscapes of fluvial ridges carved from ancient sedimentary basin fill

Cardenas, Benjamin T. and Lamb, Michael P. and Grotzinger, John P. (2022) Martian landscapes of fluvial ridges carved from ancient sedimentary basin fill. Nature Geoscience, 15 (11). pp. 871-877. ISSN 1752-0894. doi:10.1038/s41561-022-01058-2.

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Large sedimentary basins contain archives of Earth history. It is unknown to what extent similar basins existed on Mars because there are few observations relating to the subsurface and it is difficult to identify buried deposits. Here, we used numerical simulations to show that landscapes of networks of topographic ridges that are abundant on the surface of Mars may represent erosional windows into thick, basin-filling river deposits that accumulated over long time spans. We used a numerical model to drive hillslope creep and differential erosion from the wind to simulate Mars-like exhumation processes acting on basin-filling fluvial strata, which we based on those buried in the Gulf of Mexico on Earth, as imaged using three-dimensional reflectance seismology. Simulations produced remarkably Martian landscapes in which the preferential erosion of mudstone relative to sandstone channel belts leads to the development of complex patterns of intersecting ridges. Our findings contrast to the existing view of ridged Martian landscapes as thin-skinned surface deposits preserving fluvial landscapes at a snapshot in time. Instead, the ridge cross-cutting patterns produced by the model reflect the exhumation of channel bodies at different stratigraphic levels, exposing basin strata accumulated over time scales of 500,000 years. Thus, we propose that fluvial ridges on Mars may expose an archive of long-lived aqueous processes.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Cardenas, Benjamin T.0000-0001-7246-219X
Lamb, Michael P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Grotzinger, John P.0000-0001-9324-1257
Alternate Title:Ridged Martian landscapes carved from ancient sedimentary basin fill
Additional Information:Funding for this study was provided in part by NASA grant NNX16AQ81G awarded to M.P.L. We thank the Mars Science Laboratory mission for support and J. Dickson for technical assistance in Caltech’s Murray Lab for Planetary Visualization.
Group:Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, Bruce Murray Laboratory for Planetary Visualization
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Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20221110-430693700.11
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:117826
Deposited By: Research Services Depository
Deposited On:23 Nov 2022 00:20
Last Modified:15 Feb 2023 18:42

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