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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Apr 2018

Research article | 04 Apr 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf).

Deep-seated gravitational slope deformation scaling on Mars and Earth: same fate for different initial conditions and structural evolutions

Olga Kromuszczyńska1, Daniel Mège2,3,4, Krzysztof Dębniak1, Joanna Gurgurewicz1,2, Magdalena Makowska1, and Antoine Lucas5 Olga Kromuszczyńska et al.
  • 1Institute of Geological Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences, Research Centre in Wrocław, Podwale 75, 50-449 Wrocław, Poland
  • 2Space Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, Bartycka 18A, 00-716 Warsaw, Poland
  • 3Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique, Université de Nantes, UMR CNRS 6112, 2 rue de la houssinière, Nantes, France
  • 4Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers Nantes Atlantique, OSUNA CNRS UMS 3281, Nantes, France
  • 5Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Université Paris, Diderot, Paris 75013, France

Abstract. Some of the most spectacular instances of deep-seated gravitational slope deformation (DSGSD) are found on Mars in the Valles Marineris region. They provide an excellent opportunity to study DSGSD phenomenology using a scaling approach. The topography of selected DSGSD scarps in Valles Marineris and in the Tatra Mountains is investigated after their likely similar postglacial origin is established. The deformed Martian ridges are larger than the deformed terrestrial ridges by one to two orders, with however a similar height-to-width ratio, ~0.24. The measured finite strain of the Valles Marineris ridges is 3 times larger than in the Tatra Mountains, suggesting that starting from two different initial conditions, with steeper slopes in Valles Marineris, the final ridge geometry is now similar. Because DSGSD is expected to be now inactive in both regions, their comparison suggests that whatever the initial ridge morphology, DSGSD proceeds until a mature profile is attained. On both planets, strain is distributed over the same number (~5) of major scarps; fault displacements are therefore much larger on Mars. The large offsets make necessary reactivation of the DSGSD fault scarps in Valles Marineris, whereas single seismic events would be enough to generate DSGSD fault scarps in the Tatra Mountains. The required longer activity of the Martian faults may be correlated with a long succession of climate cycles generated by the unstable Mars obliquity. In spite of similar global geometry today, the studied ridges on Mars and Earth affected by DSGSD did not start from similar initial conditions and did not follow the same structural evolution.

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Olga Kromuszczyńska et al.
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Olga Kromuszczyńska et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Deep-seated gravitational spreading features are spectacular on Mars on the hillslopes of Valles Marineris, both in terms of freshness of landforms and size. This paper compares their dimensions and those in terrestrial analogue sites, in the Tatra Mountains. Gravitational spreading is thought to be now inactive in both locations. We find that height-to-width ratio, ~ 0.24, is similar, in spite of much larger strain in Valles Marineris. We explore the implications.
Deep-seated gravitational spreading features are spectacular on Mars on the hillslopes of Valles...