DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 36. Mars Surface Posters
Displayed, 9:00am Tuesday - 3:00pm Saturday, Highlighted, Friday, November 30, 2001, 9:00-10:30am, French Market Exhibit Hall

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[36.09] Impact-Induced Liquid-Water Environments on Mars

I.J. Daubar, D.A. Kring (LPL, U. Arizona)

The origin and evolution of life on Earth were likely associated with hydrothermal systems (e.g., Corliss et al. 1980, Baross and Hoffman 1985, Holm and Andersson 1995, Shock 1996). Although research has been concentrated on volcanic hydrothermal systems on Earth (e.g., Norton 1984, Farmer 2000) and on Mars (e.g., Allen et al. 1982, Gulick and Baker 1989, Farmer 1996), we suggest that large impacts can, and did, drive similar systems.

Impacts are a significant source of thermal energy: melt rock produced in impacts, and hot rock uplifted from depth both provide sources of heat to drive hydrothermal systems. On Mars, these heat sources could provide enough energy to melt an underlying layer of permafrost and perhaps even initiate long-lived crater lakes (Newsom et al. 1996, Cabrol et al. 1999).

In terms of the production of heat and the habitable volume incorporated in hydrothermal systems, impacts might have been at least as important as volcanic systems early in planetary development. The oldest (Noachian) surfaces on Mars support this hypothesis: they show very little evidence of volcanism (Carr 1996) and are instead dominated by impact cratering processes. Kring and Cohen (2001, submitted) estimate that more than 6400 craters with diameters greater than 20 km were produced on Mars ~3.9 Ga.

We present estimates of the lifetimes of hydrothermal systems in Martian craters with sizes ranging from 20 km to 200 km in diameter. Lifetimes calculated assuming convective cooling are ~105 years for 100-km craters and several 106 years for 180-km craters (Daubar and Kring 2001, cf. Thorsos et al. 2001). These results may be influenced by an insulating breccia layer, shock heating, and convection of water; these factors are currently being evaluated.

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