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Growth and form of the mound in Gale Crater, Mars: Slope-wind enhanced erosion and transport

Kite, Edwin S. and Lewis, Kevin W. and Lamb, Michael P. (2012) Growth and form of the mound in Gale Crater, Mars: Slope-wind enhanced erosion and transport. . (Submitted)

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Ancient sediments provide archives of climate and habitability on Mars. Gale Crater, the landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), hosts a 5 km high sedimentary mound. Hypotheses for mound formation include evaporitic, lacustrine, fluviodeltaic, and aeolian processes, but the origin and original extent of Gale's mound is unknown. Here we show new measurements of sedimentary strata within the mound that indicate ~3 degree outward dips oriented radially away from the mound center, inconsistent with the first three hypotheses. Moreover, although mounds are widely considered to be erosional remnants of a once crater-filling unit, we find that the Gale mound's current form is close to its maximal extent. Instead we propose that the mound's structure, stratigraphy, and current shape can be explained by growth in place near the center of the crater mediated by wind-topography feedbacks. Our model shows how sediment can initially accrete near the crater center far from crater-wall katabatic winds, until the increasing relief of the resulting mound generates mound-flank slope-winds strong enough to erode the mound. Our results indicate mound formation by airfall-dominated deposition with a limited role for lacustrine and fluvial activity, and potentially limited organic carbon preservation. Morphodynamic feedbacks between wind and topography are widely applicable to a range of sedimentary mounds and ice mounds across the Martian surface, and possibly other planets.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Kite, Edwin S.0000-0002-1426-1186
Lewis, Kevin W.0000-0003-3412-803X
Lamb, Michael P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Additional Information:We thank Claire Newman, Mark Richardson, Bill Dietrich, Woody Fischer, Mike Mischna, Francis Nimmo, Aymeric Spiga, Dave Stevenson, Oded Aharonson, and especially Katie Stack, for their intellectual contributions. We additionally thank Claire Newman and Mark Richardson for sharing their MarsWRF output for Gale.
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120618-140723409
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:31939
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Jul 2012 23:07
Last Modified:20 Oct 2017 20:35

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