Rock glaciers on Mars: Earth-based clues to Mars' recent paleoclimatic history

William C. Mahaney, Hideaki Miyamoto, James M. Dohm, Victor R. Baker, Nathalie A. Cabrol, Edmond A. Grin, Daniel C. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The Mars Orbital Camera onboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, which is currently orbiting about Mars, has revealed hundreds of pristine lobate and tongue-shaped flows that closely display the morphological characteristics of terrestrial rock glaciers, both tongue- and lobe-shaped forms. Generally located between 30°S and 47°S latitude on Mars, these terrestrial-like flows have important paleoenvironmental implications, including marking environmental change from current, present cold and dry desert martian conditions to cold wetter climates in the past. Paleoenvironmental conditions, hypothesized to have significantly influenced the dimensions of the terrestrial-like flows, is supported through a simple dynamic model with the power-law rheology. The presence of periglacial landforms on Mars indicates the possible presence of permafrost and potential caches of water for future exobiological exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-192
Number of pages12
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Mars
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Rock Glacier Rheology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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