Footprints of a martian flood

February 18, 2016
Arda Valles. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Water has left its mark in a variety of ways in this martian scene captured by ESA's Mars Express.

The region lies on the western rim of an ancient large impact basin, as seen in the context map. The image shows the western part of the Arda Valles, a dendritic drainage system 260 km north of Holden Crater and close to Ladon Valles.

Vast volumes of water once flowed from the southern highlands, carving Ladon Valles and ponding in the large Ladon Basin seen in this image.

The plan views show the striking dendritic drainage pattern of the valleys (left). Many contributing streams merge into tributaries of the main channels before flowing down into the smooth-floored impact basin towards the right.

In the upper centre of the main image – also clearly identified in the topography and anaglyph images – a large mound is seen with an 8.5 km-wide impact crater at its foot. The mound is possibly the remnant of an older but may also have been influenced by sediments transported by the surrounding streams, building up a fan deposit.

In the centre right of the image, a large 25 km-wide impact crater has also been filled by thick muddy sediments that later collapsed into the chaotic terrain seen in the . The jumbled nodules in the crater rim probably indicate the former level of the infilling sediments.

Arda Valles context. Credit: NASA MGS MOLA Science Team

To the top right of the scene, the surface has also broken up into a number of giant polygons, likely linked to the loss of underground ice and the slow evaporation of water that was once ubiquitous in this area.

The more concentric fracture-like features seen within the smooth floor of the large basin are likely also related to stresses in the surface resulting from the compaction of the vast amount of sediments that infill the basin.

Some of the fractures seem to join the central crater to the smoother basin floor, particularly evident in the perspective view. They could be a later manifestation of stresses due to subsidence or compaction of surface materials.

Finally, in the lower centre of the image, just above the at the bottom of the scene and towards the end of the dendritic channels, light-toned and layered deposits have been identified. These are clay minerals, known to be formed in the presence of water.

Arda Valles topography. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Arda Valles perspective. Credit: ESA
3D view in Arda Valles. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Explore further: Mars: The fractured features of Ladon basin

Related Stories

Mars deep down

August 19, 2014

Scarring the southern highlands of Mars is one of the Solar System's largest impact basins: Hellas, with a diameter of 2300 km and a depth of over 7 km.

Forces of martian nature

July 11, 2014

The surface of Mars is pocked and scarred with giant impact craters and rocky ridges, as shown in this new image from ESA's Mars Express that borders the giant Hellas basin in the planet's southern hemisphere.The Hellas basin, ...

Winter in the southern uplands of Mars

September 19, 2014

Over billions of years, the southern uplands of Mars have been pockmarked by numerous impact features, which are often so closely packed that they overlap. One such feature is Hooke crater, shown in this frost-tinged scene, ...

Image: On the rim of Schiaparelli crater

November 23, 2015

A 42 km-wide impact crater and numerous smaller craters straddle the northwestern rim of the 460 km-diameter Schiaparelli basin in this image taken by ESA's Mars Express on 15 July 2010.

Recommended for you

Solar eruptions could electrify Martian moons

October 18, 2017

Powerful solar eruptions could electrically charge areas of the Martian moon Phobos to hundreds of volts, presenting a complex electrical environment that could possibly affect sensitive electronics carried by future robotic ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

FredJose
1 / 5 (2) Feb 18, 2016
it's quite interesting how scientists can recognize and acknowledge the flood drainage patterns on Mars where there is no water at all [ anymore ] yet here on earth they completely deny and ignore the huge chasms cut and preserved by a flood of biblical proportions. Just take a look at all the major canyons across the globe and the flood drainage patterns are unmistakeable. One must therefore commend those people who have acknowledged the clear catastrophic undersea flood pattern in the British channels.
Solon
1 / 5 (2) Feb 18, 2016
Assumptions. We see what we believe to be water cut features on Earth so assume it must have been water at work on Mars. But if Mars has been subject to huge electricity based surface modification, then we should assume that Earth has too. Which is the better assumption?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.