Mars surface shaped from overflow craters into fast, furious floods

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A new study led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has found that massive flooding from overflowing crater lakes played an outsized role in shaping the Martian surface, carving deep trenches and moving large amounts of sediment. had played.

New Delhi: A new study led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has found that massive flooding from overflowing crater lakes played an outsized role in shaping the Martian surface, carving deep trenches and moving large amounts of sediment. had played.


The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Nature’. The study found that the floods, which probably lasted only weeks, destroyed more than enough sediment to completely fill Lake Superior and Lake Ontario.


“If we think about how sediment was being transported across the landscape on ancient Mars, the lakebed flood was a really important process,” said lead author Tim Gouge, an assistant professor in the UT Jackson School of Geosciences.


“And this is a slightly surprising result because they have been treated as one-sided anomalies for so long,” Gouz said.
Crater lakes were common on Mars billions of years ago when there was liquid water on the surface of the Red Planet. Some craters can hold a small ocean’s worth of water. But when the water gets too high, it breaks the edge of the crater, causing catastrophic flooding, engulfing river valleys. A 2019 study led by Gauge determined that these events happened rapidly.


Remote sensing images taken by satellites orbiting Mars have allowed scientists to study the remains of broken Martian crater lakes. However, the study of crater lakes and their river basins has mostly been done on an individual basis, Gauz said. This is the first study to examine how the Red Planet’s 262 broken lakes shaped the surface of Mars as a whole.


The research involves reviewing an earlier catalog of river basins on Mars and classifying the basins into two categories: valleys that began at the edge of a crater, which indicate they formed during the breakup of a lake, and Valleys that formed elsewhere on the landscape suggest a more gradual formation over time.


From there, the scientists compared the depth, length, and volume of different types of canyons and found that the river basins created by Crater Lake punctuate significantly above their weight, despite making up only about 3 percent of the volume of the Red Planet’s river basins. About a quarter of it is destroyed. Percentage of the total length of the valley.


“The reason for this discrepancy is the fact that outlet canyons are much deeper than other canyons,” said study co-author Alexander Morgan, a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.


At 559 feet (170.5 m), the average depth of a breached river valley is more than twice that of other river valleys that have formed gradually over time, with an average depth of about 254 feet (77.5 m).


Furthermore, although trenches are visible at the geologic moment, they can have a lasting effect on the surrounding landscape. The study suggested that the rifts deepened the valleys so much that they could have influenced the formation of other nearby river basins. The authors said this is a possible alternative explanation for the unique Martian river valley topography that is commonly attributed to climate.


The study showed that lake-ruptured river basins played an important role in shaping the Martian surface, but Gauge said it’s also a lesson in hope. Earth’s geology has eroded most of the crater and has made river erosion a slow and steady process in most cases. But that doesn’t mean it will work like that in other worlds.


Gauge concluded, “When you fill[the craters]with water, there’s a lot of stored energy released. It makes sense that Mars might be pointing to a disaster in size compared to Earth in this case.” could.” (ANI)

First published:October 1, 2021, 3:39 pm

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