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Landforms indicative of regional warm based glaciation, Phlegra Montes, Mars

Published version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

Change log

Authors

Gallagher, C 
Butcher, FEG 
Balme, M 
Smith, I 

Abstract

Viscous flow features (VFF) occur in the mid-latitudes of Mars and have characteristics consistent with being glaciers. Climate models suggest that martian glaciers are cold-based systems in which meltwater has never been widely produced. VFF are common in Phlegra Montes, a mountain range in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere of Mars. However, in Phlegra Montes, the presence of an esker associated with an extant Amazonian Period VFF provides evidence that warm-based glacial processes did formerly operate. The problem at the centre of this paper is that the glacial meltwater responsible for this esker could have been produced as a consequence of its setting in a graben, with locally enhanced geothermal heating having been the driver of melt, not systemic heating associated with a regional warm-based regime. Given this uncertainty, this paper aims to determine if there are indicators of more widespread warm-based glacial processes in Phlegra Montes. The paper briefly describes the distribution and characteristics of VFF across the region, before focussing on the search for key landforms considered diagnostic of erosion by warm-based glaciers. From our observations, including discriminant morphometrics, we conclude that the landscape of Phlegra Montes is indicative of widespread warm-based glacial processes, including subglacial scour, linear abrasion and the incision of subglacial meltwater channels. Our findings have significance in constraining the contexts and process environments within which liquid water has been produced during the Amazonian Period on Mars and point to several lines of future research into martian glaciation, climate and landscape evolution.

Description

Keywords

5109 Space Sciences, 5101 Astronomical Sciences, 51 Physical Sciences, 13 Climate Action

Journal Title

Icarus

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0019-1035
1090-2643

Volume Title

355

Publisher

Elsevier BV
Sponsorship
FEGB is part of the PALGLAC research team supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 787263). FEGB also acknowledges funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) grant ST/N50421X/1.