The University of Arizona

High-latitude cold-based glacial deposits on Mars: Multiple superposed drop moraines in a crater interior at 70N latitude

James B. Garvin, James W. Head, David R. Marchant, Mikhail A. Kreslavsky


An impact crater 26.8 km in diameter, located in the northern lowlands (70.32°N, 266.45E) at the base of the flanking slopes of the shield volcano Alba Patera, is characterized by highly unusual deposits on its southeastern floor and interior walls and on its southeastern rim. These include multiple generations of distinctive arcuate ridges about 115-240 m in width and lobate deposits extending down the crater wall and across the crater floor, forming a broad, claw-like, ridged deposit around the central peak. Unusual deposits on the eastern and southeastern crater rim include frost, dunes, and a single distal arcuate ridge. Based on their morphology and geometric relationships, and terrestrial analogs from the Mars-like Antarctic Dry Valleys, the floor ridges are interpreted to represent drop moraines, remnants of the previous accumulation of snow and ice, and formation of cold-based glaciers on the crater rim. The configuration and superposition of the ridges indicate that the accumulated snow and ice formed glaciers that flowed down into the crater and across the crater floor, stabilized, covering an area of about 150 km^2, and produced multiple individual drop moraines due to fluctuation in the position of the stable glacier front. Superposition of a thin mantle and textures attributed to a recent ice-age period (~0.5-2 Myr ago) suggest that the glacial deposits date to at least 4-10 Myr before the present. At least five phases of advance and retreat are indicated by the stratigraphic relationships, and these may be related to obliquity excursions. These deposits are in contrast to other ice-related modification and degradation processes typical of craters in the northern lowlands, and may be related to the distinctive position of this crater in the past atmospheric circulation pattern, leading to sufficient preferential local accumulation of snow and ice to cause glacial flow.


drop moraine;glacial;Craters;Planet Mars

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