Fluvial geomorphology on Earth-like planetary surfaces: A review

Victor R. Baker, Christopher W. Hamilton, Devon M. Burr, Virginia C. Gulick, Goro Komatsu, Wei Luo, James W. Rice, J. A.P. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Morphological evidence for ancient channelized flows (fluvial and fluvial-like landforms) exists on the surfaces of all of the inner planets and on some of the satellites of the Solar System. In some cases, the relevant fluid flows are related to a planetary evolution that involves the global cycling of a volatile component (water for Earth and Mars; methane for Saturn's moon Titan). In other cases, as on Mercury, Venus, Earth's moon, and Jupiter's moon Io, the flows were of highly fluid lava. The discovery, in 1972, of what are now known to be fluvial channels and valleys on Mars sparked a major controversy over the role of water in shaping the surface of that planet. The recognition of the fluvial character of these features has opened unresolved fundamental questions about the geological history of water on Mars, including the presence of an ancient ocean and the operation of a hydrological cycle during the earliest phases of planetary history. Other fundamental questions posed by fluvial and fluvial-like features on planetary bodies include the possible erosive action of large-scale outpourings of very fluid lavas, such as those that may have produced the remarkable canali forms on Venus; the ability of exotic fluids, such as methane, to create fluvial-like landforms, as observed on Saturn's moon, Titan; and the nature of sedimentation and erosion under different conditions of planetary surface gravity. Planetary fluvial geomorphology also illustrates fundamental epistemological and methodological issues, including the role of analogy in geomorphological/geological inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-182
Number of pages34
JournalGeomorphology
Volume245
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 5 2015

Keywords

  • Fluvial channels
  • Mars
  • Planetary geomorphology
  • Titan
  • Venus
  • Volcanic channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Fluvial geomorphology on Earth-like planetary surfaces: A review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Baker, V. R., Hamilton, C. W., Burr, D. M., Gulick, V. C., Komatsu, G., Luo, W., Rice, J. W., & Rodriguez, J. A. P. (2015). Fluvial geomorphology on Earth-like planetary surfaces: A review. Geomorphology, 245, 149-182. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2015.05.002