Stepped fans and phyllosilicates on Mars

figure-2Planetary Geomorphology Image of the Month, April 1, 2018: Peter Grindrod (Natural History Museum, London, UK). A number of different studies have catalogued features on Mars that could be given the general heading of sedimentary fans... These features occur whenever the velocity of a river or stream decreases, and the water no longer has enough energy to carry its sediment, and thus begins to deposit its load. This drop in energy often occurs when the water flows into flatter and wider regions. The distribution of these fans on Mars is important because it shows the location of past water flows, and the amount of material that has been transported (which can be used as a proxy for flow duration).

However, one of the fundamental problems when looking at these features with orbital data alone, is that it is difficult to determine whether the river flowed into a standing body of water (for example a lake) or just an empty canyon or crater. Of course, the implications of this problem are important if we want to understand the volume and distribution of past water on Mars, which in themselves feed into understanding the past climate and even habitability of Mars. [More at link]

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