DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 48. Mars Surface
Oral, Chairs: N. Barlow, J. Bell III, Friday, November 30, 2001, 4:30-6:40pm, Regency E

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[48.12] Recent Glaciers on Mars: Description and Solar System Perspective

J.S. Kargel (U.S. Geological Survey)

Active or recently active ice deposits occur on Mars at middle and high latitudes in fretted terrain, around massifs in highlands east of Hellas and in southern Argyre, on crater walls in the highlands, and in the south polar cap. Most mid-latitude icy flows are debris covered, apparently stagnant, and eroded by partial sublimation. Others are scarred by fresh crevasses and gullies, thus suggesting recent deformation and surface melting. Erosional features include a variety of small-scale relief elements due mainly to sublimation, but sublimation has not obliterated evidence of flow. Similar to terrestrial glaciers in many respects, there are also notable differences, especially in the nature of accumulation.

Deformation of the south polar cap is indicated by folding, boudinage, strike-slip or normal faulting, forebulge tectonics near scarps, and thrust faulting. The north polar cap locally also exhibits flow indicators. The south cap's glacial features suggest interbedding of two or more types of ice of differing volatility and rheology, plus a locally deforming surficial dry-ice cap overlying the other materials. Major ice types may include two (or more) of the following, in order of highest to lowest mechanical strength: CO2 clathrate hydrate, water ice, water ice containing traces of liquid-soluble salts, water ice containing traces of solid-soluble acids, and CO2 ice; dust is another variable.

Within our Solar System, the closest geomorphic analog to icy Martian flows are Earth's alpine glaciers, rock glaciers, and continental ice sheets, though key differences are apparent. If made dominantly of water ice, important and recent climatic shifts seem to be implicated. Ice-flow landforms also occur on some outer planet satellites; among them are Io, Europa, Enceladus, Ariel, and Triton. Volatile flows on these bodies may involve diverse materials, such as sulfur, water ice, hydrated salts, ammonia-water ices, and nitrogen ice. Most of these would not be suitable materials on Mars.

This work was funded by grants from the NASA Mars Data Analysis Program.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: jkargel@usgs.gov

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