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Global drainage patterns and the origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars, and Titan

Black, Benjamin A. and Perron, J. Taylor and Hemingway, Douglas and Bailey, Elizabeth and Nimmo, Francis and Zebker, Howard (2017) Global drainage patterns and the origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars, and Titan. Science, 356 (6339). pp. 727-731. ISSN 0036-8075. doi:10.1126/science.aag0171.

[img] PDF (Materials and Methods; Figs. S1 to S8; Tables S1 and S2; Captions for Databases S1 and S2; References) - Supplemental Material
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Rivers have eroded the topography of Mars, Titan, and Earth, creating diverse landscapes. However, the dominant processes that generated topography on Titan (and to some extent on early Mars) are not well known. We analyzed drainage patterns on all three bodies and found that large drainages, which record interactions between deformation and erosional modification, conform much better to long-wavelength topography on Titan and Mars than on Earth. We use a numerical landscape evolution model to demonstrate that short-wavelength deformation causes drainage directions to diverge from long-wavelength topography, as observed on Earth. We attribute the observed differences to ancient long-wavelength topography on Mars, recent or ongoing generation of long-wavelength relief on Titan, and the creation of short-wavelength relief by plate tectonics on Earth.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Materials
Bailey, Elizabeth0000-0002-4769-8253
Nimmo, Francis0000-0003-3573-5915
Additional Information:© 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received 1 June 2016; accepted 6 April 2017. We thank E. Chan for spot-checking martian drainages. Three reviewers provided constructive feedback. B.A.B. acknowledges NASA grant NNX16AR87G. D.H. thanks the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science. We thank the Cassini team. The topography and drainage data used in this paper are available at and for Earth, at and in database S2 for Titan, and at and for Mars. The landscape evolution software Tadpole is available at
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Miller Institute for Basic Research in ScienceUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:6339
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170522-081615111
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Official Citation:Global drainage patterns and the origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars, and Titan By Benjamin A. Black, J. Taylor Perron, Douglas Hemingway, Elizabeth Bailey, Francis Nimmo, Howard Zebker Science 19 May 2017 : 727-731
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:77617
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:05 Jun 2017 20:32
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 17:32

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