Constraints on the origin and evolution of Iani Chaos, Mars

Nicholas H Warner, Sanjeev Gupta, Jung-Rack Kim, Jan-Peter Muller, Lucille Le Corre, Jeremy Morley, Shih-Yuan Lin, Chris McGonigle

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Abstract

[1] The origin mechanisms and geologic evolution of chaotic terrain on Mars are poorly constrained. Iani Chaos, located at the headAres Vallis, is among themost geomorphologically complex of the chaotic terrains. Its morphology is defined by (1) multiple, 1 to 2 km deep basins, (2) flat‐topped, fractured plateaus that are remnants of highland terrain, (3) knobby, fractured remnants of highland terrain, (4) plateaus with a knobby surface morphology, (5) interchaos grooved terrain, (6) interior layered deposits (ILDs), and (7) mantling material. Topography, the observed geomorphology, and measured fracture patterns suggest that the interchaos basins formed as a result of subsurface volume loss and collapse of the crust, likely owing to effusion of groundwater to the surface. Regional patterns in fracture orientation indicate that the basins developed along linear zones of preexisting weakness in the highland crust. Multiple overlapping basins and fracture systems point to multiple stages of collapse at Iani Chaos. Furthermore, the total estimated volume loss from the basins (104 km3) is insufficient to explain erosion of 104–105 km3 of material from Ares Vallis by a single flood. Comparisons with the chronology of Ares Vallis indicate multiple water effusion events from Iani Chaos that span the Hesperian, with termination of activity in the early Amazonian. Recharge of groundwater through preexisting fracture systems may explain this long‐lived, but likely episodic, fluvial activity. Late‐stage, early to middle Amazonian aqueous processes may have deposited the ILDs. However, the topography data indicate that the ILDs did not form within lacustrine environments.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Volume116
Issue numberE6
Early online date15 Jun 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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