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The environmental effects of very large bolide impacts on early Mars explored with a hierarchy of numerical models

Status Report From: arXiv.org e-Print archive
Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2019

Martin Turbet, Cédric Gillmann, François Forget, Baptiste Baudin, Ashley Palumbo, James Head, Özgür Karatekin

(Submitted on 20 Feb 2019)

We use a hierarchy of numerical models (a 3-D Global Climate Model, a 1-D radiative-convective model and a 2-D Mantle Dynamics model) to explore the environmental effects of very large impacts on the atmosphere, surface and interior of early Mars. 

Using a combination of 1-D and 3-D climate simulations, we show that the environmental effects of the largest impact events recorded on Mars are characterized by: (i) a short impact-induced warm period; (ii) a low amount of hydrological cycling of water; (iii) deluge-style precipitation; and (iv) precipitation patterns that are uncorrelated with the observed regions of valley networks. We show that the impact-induced stable runaway greenhouse state predicted by Segura et al. 2012 is physically inconsistent. We confirm the results of Segura et al. 2008 and Urata & Toon 2013 that water ice clouds can significantly extend the duration of the post-impact warm period, and even for cloud coverage lower than predicted in Ramirez & Kasting 2017. However, the range of cloud microphysical properties for which this scenario works is very narrow. 

Using 2-D Mantle Dynamics simulations we find that large impacts can raise the near-surface internal heat flux up to several hundreds of mW/m2 (i.e. up to ∼ 10 times the ambient flux) for several millions years at the edges of the impact crater. However, such internal heat flux is insufficient to keep the martian surface above the melting point of water. 

Our numerical results support the prediction of Palumbo & Head 2018 that very large impact-induced rainfall could have caused degradation of craters and formed smooth plains, potentially erasing much of the previously visible morphological surface history. Such hot rainfalls may have also led to the formation of aqueous alteration products on Noachian-aged terrains.

Comments: Submitted to Icarus. Abstract significantly abridged to meet ArXiv size limit

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (physics.ao-ph); Geophysics (physics.geo-ph)

Cite as: arXiv:1902.07666 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1902.07666v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Martin Turbet  

[v1] Wed, 20 Feb 2019 17:24:08 UTC (11,159 KB)

https://arxiv.org/abs/1902.07666

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