Spatiotemporal evolution, mineralogical composition, and transport mechanisms of long-runout landslides in Valles Marineris, Mars

1,2Jessica A.Watkins,2,3Bethany L.Ehlmann,1An Yin
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.113836]
1Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences and Institute of Planets and Exoplanets (iPLEX), University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1567, USA
2Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
3Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
Copyright Elsevier

Long-runout landslides with transport distances of >50 km are ubiquitous in Valles Marineris (VM), yet the transport mechanisms remain poorly understood. Four decades of studies reveal significant variation in landslide morphology and emplacement age, but how these variations are related to landslide transport mechanisms is not clear. In this study, we address this question by conducting systematic geological mapping and compositional analysis of VM long-runout landslides using high-resolution Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter imagery and spectral data. Our work shows that: (1) a two-zone morphological division (i.e., an inner zone characterized by rotated blocks and an outer zone expressed by a thin sheet with a nearly flat surface) characterizes all major VM landslides; (2) landslide mobility is broadly dependent on landslide mass; and (3) the maximum width of the outer zone and its transport distance are inversely related to the basal friction that was estimated from the surface slope angle of the outer zone. Our comprehensive Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) compositional analysis indicates that hydrated silicates are common in landslide outer zones and nearby trough-floor deposits. Furthermore, outer zones containing hydrated minerals are sometimes associated with longer runout and increased lateral spreading compared to those without detectable hydrated minerals. Finally, with one exception we find that hydrated minerals are absent in the inner zones of the investigated VM landslides. These results as whole suggest that hydrated minerals may have contributed to the magnitude of lateral spreading and long-distance forward transport of major VM landslides.

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