Stratigraphy of Aeolis Dorsa, Mars: stratigraphic context of the great river deposits

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Edwin S. Kite, Alan D. Howard, Antoine S. Lucas, John C. Armstrong, Oded Aharonson, Michael P. Lamb
(Submitted on 10 Dec 2017)

Unraveling the stratigraphic record is the key to understanding ancient climate and past climate changes on Mars. River deposits when placed in stratigraphic order could constrain the number, magnitudes, and durations of the wettest climates in Mars history. We establish the stratigraphic context of river deposits in Aeolis Dorsa sedimentary basin, 10E of Gale crater. Here, wind has exhumed a stratigraphic section of >=4 unconformity-bounded sedimentary rock packages, recording >=3 distinct episodes of surface runoff. Early deposits (>700m thick) are embayed by river deposits (>400m), which are in turn unconformably draped by fan-shaped deposits (<100m) which we interpret as alluvial fans. Yardang-forming deposits (>900 m) unconformably drape all previous deposits. River deposits embay a dissected sedimentary-rock landscape, and comprise >=2 distinguishable units. The total interval spanned by river deposits is >(1x10^6-2x10^7) yr; more if we include alluvial-fan deposits. Alluvial-fan deposits unconformably postdate thrust faults which crosscut river deposits. We infer a relatively dry interval of >4x10^7 yr after river deposits formed and before fan-shaped deposits formed. The time gap between the end of river deposition and the onset of yardang-forming deposits is constrained to >10^8 yr by the density of impact craters embedded at the unconformity. We correlate yardang-forming deposits to the upper layers of Gale crater's mound (Mt. Sharp/Aeolis Mons), and fan-shaped deposits to Peace Vallis fan. Alternations between periods of low vs. high mean obliquity may have modulated erosion-deposition cycling in Aeolis. This is consistent with results from an ensemble of simulations of Solar System orbital evolution and the resulting history of Mars obliquity. Almost all simulations yield intervals of continuously low mean Mars obliquity that are long enough to match our unconformity data.

Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Journal reference:    Icarus (2015), 253, 223-242
DOI:    10.1016/j.icarus.2015.03.007
Cite as:    arXiv:1712.03951 [astro-ph.EP]    (or arXiv:1712.03951v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Edwin Kite
[v1] Sun, 10 Dec 2017 01:41:34 GMT (24685kb)

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