High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) observations of glacial and periglacial morphologies in the circum-Argyre Planitia highlands, Mars

Maria E. Banks, Alfred S. McEwen, Jefey S. Kargel, Victor Baker, Robert G. Strom, Michael T. Mellon, Virginia C. Gulick, Laszlo Keszthelyi, Kenneth E. Herkenhoff, Jon Pelletier, Windy L. Jaeger

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The landscape of the Argyre Planitia and adjoining Charitum and Nereidum Montes in the southern hemisphere of Mars has been heavily modified since formation of the Argyre impact basin. This study examines morphologies in the Argyre region revealed in images acquired by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera and discusses the implications for glacial and periglacial processes. Distinctive features such as large grooves, semicircular embayments in high topography, and streamlined hills are interpreted as glacially eroded grooves, cirques, and whalebacks or roche moutonnée, respectively. Large boulders scattered across the floor of a valley may be ground moraine deposited by ice ablation. Glacial interpretations are supported by the association of these features with other landforms typical of glaciated landscapes such as broad valleys with parabolic cross sections and stepped longitudinal profiles, lobate debris aprons interpreted as remnant debris covered glaciers or rock glaciers, and possible hanging valleys. Aligned boulders observed on slopes may also indicate glacial processes such as fluting. Alternatively, boulders aligned on slopes and organized in clumps and polygonal patterns on flatter surfaces may indicate periglacial processes, perhaps postglaciation, that form patterned ground. At least portions of the Argyre region appear to have been modified by processes of ice accumulation, glacial flow, erosion, sediment deposition, ice stagnation and ablation, and perhaps subsequent periglacial processes. The type of bedrock erosion apparent in images suggests that glaciers were, at times, wet based. The number of superposed craters is consistent with geologically recent glacial activity, but may be due to subsequent modification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE12015
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 20 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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