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Enhanced runout and erosion by overland flow at low pressure and sub-freezing conditions: Experiments and application to Mars

Conway, Susan J. and Lamb, Michael P. and Balme, Matthew R. and Towner, Martin C. and Murray, John B. (2011) Enhanced runout and erosion by overland flow at low pressure and sub-freezing conditions: Experiments and application to Mars. Icarus, 211 (1). pp. 443-457. ISSN 0019-1035. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20110301-113228393

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Abstract

We present the results of laboratory experiments to study the sediment transport and erosional capacity of water at current martian temperature and pressure. We have performed laboratory simulation experiments in which a stream of water flowed over test beds at low temperature (~-20 °C) and low pressure (~7 mbar). The slope angle was 14° and three sediment types were tested. We compared the erosive ability, runout and resulting morphologies to experiments performed at ambient terrestrial temperature (~20 °C) and pressure (~1000 mbar), and also to experiments performed under low pressure only. We observed that, as expected, water is unstable in the liquid phase at low temperature and low pressure, with boiling and freezing in competition. Despite this, our results show that water at low temperature and low pressure has an equivalent and sometimes greater erosion rate than at terrestrial temperature and pressure. Water flows faster over the sediment body under low temperature and low pressure conditions because the formation of ice below the liquid-sediment contact inhibits infiltration. Flow speed and therefore runout distance are increased. Experiments at low pressure but Earth-ambient temperature suggest that flow speeds are faster under these conditions than under Earth-ambient pressure and temperature. We hypothesise that this is due to gas bubbles, created by the boiling of the water under low atmospheric pressure, impeding liquid infiltration. We have found that both basal freezing and low pressure increase the flow propagation speed – effects not included in current models of fluvial activity on Mars. Any future modelling of water flows on Mars should consider this extra mobility and incorporate the large reduction in fluid loss through infiltration into the substrate.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2010.08.026 DOIArticle
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019103510003428PublisherArticle
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Lamb, Michael P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Additional Information:© 2010 Elsevier Inc. Received 28 October 2009; revised 1 July 2010; accepted 27 August 2010. Available online 15 September 2010. We thank François Costard and one anonymous reviewer for their comments which greatly improved this manuscript. This work would not have been possible without a postgraduate studentship grant from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). We gratefully acknowledge the support of the staff at the Open University’s Research Design and Engineering Facility and technical staff at Planetary and Space Science Research Institute. We thank Luther Beegle for sharing his raw data on grainsize analysis of JSC-1 and MMS Mars simulants and Karl Atkinson for allowing us to use his grainsize analyses results. We thank the staff at Soil Property Testing Ltd., Huntingdon, UK for performing the permeability testing and grainsize analysis. We are grateful to Helen Townsend for her assistance in the laboratory.
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Mars, Surface; Geological processes; Experimental techniques
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110301-113228393
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20110301-113228393
Official Citation:Susan J. Conway, Michael P. Lamb, Matthew R. Balme, Martin C. Towner, John B. Murray, Enhanced runout and erosion by overland flow at low pressure and sub-freezing conditions: Experiments and application to Mars, Icarus, Volume 211, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 443-457, ISSN 0019-1035, DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2010.08.026.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:22581
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:01 Mar 2011 23:51
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 02:38

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