Glacial, periglacial and glacio-volcanic structures on the Echus Plateau, upper Kasei Valles



Publication Details

Zealey, W. J. (2009). Glacial, periglacial and glacio-volcanic structures on the Echus Plateau, upper Kasei Valles. Planetary and Space Science, 57 (40334), 699-710.


An extensive region of low, sinuous ridges occupies the Hesperian plateau above Echus Chasma in the upper Kasei Valles, Mars. The ridges have lengths of up to 270 km, heights of 100 m and widths of 10 km. The total volume of the ridge material is 6×1011 m3. In this paper, volcanic flows, depositional and erosional features are discussed using Mars Observer Laser Altimeter (MOLA), THEMIS and Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) imagery and a chronology that places the ridge formation in the Late Hesperian is developed.

The plateau is bounded to the north and west by more recent Late Hesperian and Amazonian lava flows. The plateau floor suddenly changes from being relatively smooth, to elevated, rough, hummocky terrain that extends eastwards to Echus Chasma. This rough terrain is penetrated by 2 km broad, shallow entrant channels that join with the canyons of Echus Chasma. The sinuous ridges appear to control the surface drainage associated with the entrant channels.

The sinuous ridges’ size and morphology are similar to those associated with volcanic ridge eruptions. Their degraded structure is reminiscent of Moberg ridges. The rough, hummocky terrain is interpreted as glacial outwash, subsequently eroded by short-lived floods associated with ridge eruptions. The presence of both volcanic and glacial structures on the Echus Plateau raises the possibility that the ridge system arose from subglacial, volcanic events. The resulting jokulhlaups eroded the broad, entrant channels. As surface flow declined, groundwater flows dominated and canyon heads eroded back along the entrant channels, by sapping.

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