Possible polyphase periglaciation and glaciation adjacent to the Moreux impact-crater, Mars

Authors Organisations
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Article number114401
JournalIcarus
Volume362
Early online date04 Mar 2021
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2021
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Abstract

The cyclicity and temporal succession of glacial-periglacial periods or epochs are keynotes of cold-climate geology on Earth. Relatively recent work within the Mars community has begun to dissect the mid- to higher-latitudinal terrain of Mars for analogical evidence of similar cold-climate cyclicity and succession. Here, we carry on with this work by focusing on the terrain immediately to the north of the Moreux impact-crater (40–44° N, 43–47° E). The crater is located in northern Arabia Terra, to the south of Protonilus Mensae. It lies astride of and postdates Mars' crustal-dichotomy. The latter is a global geological-boundary that separates the ancient southern-highlands from the relatively younger northern-lowland plains. Using cross-cutting relationships, relative stratigraphy and crater-size frequency distributions (CSFDs) we identify three glacial and two periglacial periods that are temporally intertwined and differentiated by a suite of features unique to each of these periods. For example, we report and discuss clusters of pingo-like mounds amidst ridge and trough terrain or “brain terrain”. On Earth, the former are the work of freeze-thaw cycling; on Mars, the latter are thought to be glacial remnants. In turn, the brain terrain is underlain by small-sized polygons possibly formed by thermal contraction cracking and with margins underlain by degraded ice-wedges. Age estimates derived of CSFDs suggest that the polygonised terrain could as much as ~100 Ma, whereas the brain terrain and pingo-like mounds are thought to be ~1–~10 Ma. Possible terminal-moraines that intercept brain-terrain fragments point to an even more recent period of glaciation. If the CSFD age-estimates are valid, then the polygons that underlie the brain terrain and incise the basin floors of our study zone could be an order of magnitude older than most of the age estimates associated with polygonised terrain at other locations on Mars. The fact that there are two distinct periods of polygonization and periglacial activity with a wide offset of time within one relatively small study zone also highlights the extent to which the freeze-thaw cycling of water might be rooted as iteratively and as deeply in Mars' geological history as is its glaciation.

Keywords

  • Atmosphere, Climate, Mars, Surface

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