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Giant Polygons and Mounds in the Lowlands of Mars: Signatures of an Ancient Ocean?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22731685     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Abstract This paper presents the hypothesis that the well-known giant polygons and bright mounds of the martian lowlands may be related to a common process-a process of fluid expulsion that results from burial of fine-grained sediments beneath a body of water. Specifically, we hypothesize that giant polygons and mounds in Chryse and Acidalia Planitiae are analogous to kilometer-scale polygons and mud volcanoes in terrestrial, marine basins and that the co-occurrence of masses of these features in Chryse and Acidalia may be the signature of sedimentary processes in an ancient martian ocean. We base this hypothesis on recent data from both Earth and Mars. On Earth, 3-D seismic data illustrate kilometer-scale polygons that may be analogous to the giant polygons on Mars. The terrestrial polygons form in fine-grained sediments that have been deposited and buried in passive-margin, marine settings. These polygons are thought to result from compaction/dewatering, and they are commonly associated with fluid expulsion features, such as mud volcanoes. On Mars, in Chryse and Acidalia Planitiae, orbital data demonstrate that giant polygons and mounds have overlapping spatial distributions. There, each set of features occurs within a geological setting that is seemingly analogous to that of the terrestrial, kilometer-scale polygons (broad basin of deposition, predicted fine-grained sediments, and lack of significant horizontal stress). Regionally, the martian polygons and mounds both show a correlation to elevation, as if their formation were related to past water levels. Although these observations are based on older data with incomplete coverage, a similar correlation to elevation has been established in one local area studied in detail with newer higher-resolution data. Further mapping with the latest data sets should more clearly elucidate the relationship(s) of the polygons and mounds to elevation over the entire Chryse-Acidalia region and thereby provide more insight into this hypothesis. Key Words: Mars-Ocean-Giant polygons-Mounds-Lowlands-Chryse-Acidalia-Mud volcano. Astrobiology 12, xxx-xxx.
Dorothy Z Oehler; Carlton C Allen
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2012-6-25
Journal Detail:
Title:  Astrobiology     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1557-8070     ISO Abbreviation:  -     Publication Date:  2012 Jun 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-6-26     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101088083     Medline TA:  Astrobiology     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate, NASA-Johnson Space Center , Houston, Texas.
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