Glaciers on Mars

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Martian glacier as seen by HiRISE. Glacier is moving down valley, then spreading out on plain. Evidence for flow comes from the many lines on surface. The rimming ridges at the end of the glacier are probably moraines. Location is in Protonilus Mensae in Ismenius Lacus quadrangle.

Glaciers, loosely defined as patches of currently or recently flowing ice, are thought to be present across large but restricted areas of the modern Martian surface, and are inferred to have been more widely distributed at times in the past.[1][2] Lobate convex features on the surface known as viscous flow features and lobate debris aprons, which show the characteristics of non-Newtonian flow, are now almost unanimously regarded as true glaciers.[1][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] However, a variety of other features on the surface have also been interpreted as directly linked to flowing ice, such as fretted terrain,[1][11] lineated valley fill,[7][9] concentric crater fill,[3][12] and arcuate ridges.[10] A variety of surface textures seen in imagery of the midlatitudes and polar regions are also thought to be linked to sublimation of glacial ice.[12][13]

Today, features interpreted as glaciers are largely restricted to latitudes polewards of around 30° latitude.[14] Particular concentrations are found in the Ismenius Lacus quadrangle.[2] Based on our current models of the Martian atmosphere, ice should not however be stable if exposed at the surface in the mid-Martian latitudes.[15] It is thus thought that most glaciers must be covered with a layer of rubble or dust preventing free transfer of water vapor from the subliming ice into the air.[8][15][16] This also suggests that at in Mars' relatively recent past, its climate must have been different in order to allow the glaciers to grow stably at these latitudes.[14] This provides good independent evidence that the obliquity of Mars has changed significantly in the past, as independently indicated by modelling of Mars' orbital solutions.[17] Evidence for past glaciation also appears on the peaks of several Martian volcanoes in the tropics.[18][19][20]

Like glaciers on Earth, glaciers on Mars are not pure water ice.[1][10] Many are thought to contain substantial proportions of debris, and a substantial number are probably better described as rock glaciers.[20][21][22] For many years, largely because of the modeled instability of water ice in the midlatitudes where the putative glacial features were concentrated, it was argued that almost all glaciers were rock glaciers on Mars.[23] However, recent direct observations made by the SHARAD radar instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite have confirmed that at least some features are relatively pure ice, and thus, true glaciers.[6][8] Some authors have also made claims that glaciers of solid carbon dioxide have formed on Mars under certain rare conditions.[24]

Some landscapes look just like glaciers moving out of mountain valleys on Earth. Some have a hollowed out appearance, looking like a glacier after almost all the ice has disappeared. What is left are the moraines—the dirt and debris carried by the glacier. The center is hollowed out because the ice is mostly gone.[25] These supposed alpine glaciers have been called glacier-like forms (GLF) or glacier-like flows (GLF).[26] Glacier-like forms are a later and maybe more accurate term because we cannot be sure the structure is currently moving.[27] Another, more general term sometimes seen in the literature is viscous flow features (VFF).[27]

Radar finds ice[edit]

Radar studies with the SHAllow RADar (SHARAD) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed that Lobate Debris Aprons (LDA) and Lineated Valley Fill (LVF) contain pure water ice covered with a thin layer of rocks that insulated the ice.[28][29] Ice was found both in the southern hemisphere [30] and in the northern hemisphere.[31]

Climate Changes[edit]

It is now widely believed that ice accumulated when Mars' orbital tilt was very different from the present (the axis the planet spins on has considerable "wobble," meaning its angle changes over time).[32][33][34] A few million years ago, the tilt of the axis of Mars was 45 degrees instead of its present 25 degrees. Its tilt, also called obliquity, varies greatly because its two tiny moons cannot stabilize it like our moon.

Many features on Mars, especially in the Ismenius Lacus quadrangle, are believed to contain large amounts of ice. The most popular model for the origin of the ice is climate change from large changes in the tilt of the planet's rotational axis. At times the tilt has even been greater than 80 degrees[35][36] Large changes in the tilt explains many ice-rich features on Mars.

Studies have shown that when the tilt of Mars reaches 45 degrees from its current 25 degrees, ice is no longer stable at the poles.[37] Furthermore, at this high tilt, stores of solid carbon dioxide (dry ice) sublimate, thereby increasing the atmospheric pressure. This increased pressure allows more dust to be held in the atmosphere. Moisture in the atmosphere will fall as snow or as ice frozen onto dust grains. Calculations suggest this material will concentrate in the mid-latitudes.[38][39] General circulation models of the Martian atmosphere predict accumulations of ice-rich dust in the same areas where ice-rich features are found.[40] When the tilt begins to return to lower values, the ice sublimates (turns directly to a gas) and leaves behind a lag of dust.[41][41][42] The lag deposit caps the underlying material so with each cycle of high tilt levels, some ice-rich mantle remains behind.[43] Note, that the smooth surface mantle layer probably represents only relative recent material.

Concentric crater fill, Lineated valley fill, and Lobate debris aprons[edit]

Several types of landforms have been identified as probably dirt and rock debris covering huge deposits of ice.[44][45][46][47] Concentric crater fill (CCF) contains dozens to hundreds of concentric ridges that are caused by the movements of sometimes hundreds of meter thick accumulations of ice in craters.[48][49] Lineated valley fill (LVF)are lines of ridges in valleys.[50][51][52] These lines may have developed as other glaciers moved down valleys. Some of these glaciers seem to come from material sitting around mesas and buttes.[53] Lobate debris aprons (LDA) is the name given to these glaciers. All of these features that are believed to contain large amounts of ice are found in the mid-latitudes in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.[54][55][56] These areas are sometimes called Fretted terrain because it is sometimes winkled. With the superior resolution of cameras on Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and MRO, we have found the surface of LDA’s, LVF, and CCFs’ have a complex tangle of ridges that resemble the surface of the human brain . Wide ridges are called closed-cell brain terrain, and the less common narrow ridges are called open-cell brain terrain.[57] It is thought that the wide closed-cell terrain still contains a core of ice, that when it eventually disappears the center of the wide ridge collapses to produce the narrow ridges of the open-cell brain terrain. Today it is widely accepted that glacier-like forms, lobate debris aprons, lineated valley fill, and concentric fill are all related in that they have the same surface texture. Glacier-like forms in valleys and cirque-like alcoves may coalesce with others to produce lobate debris aprons. When opposing lobate debris aprons converge, linear valley fill results [58]

Many of these features are found in the Northern hemisphere in parts of a boundary called the Martian dichotomy. The Martian dichotomy is mostly found between 0 to 70 E longitudes.[59] Near this area are regions that are named from ancient names: Deuteronilus Mensae, Protonilus Mensae, and Nilosyrtis Mensae.

Tongue-shaped glaciers and glaciers on volcanoes[edit]

Some of the glaciers flow down mountains and are shaped by obstacles and valleys; they make a sort of tongue shape.[60] Many supposed glaciers have been observed on some of large Martian volcanoes. Researchers have described glacial deposits on Hecates Tholus,[61] Arsia Mons,[62] Pavonis Mons,[63] and Olympus Mons.[64]

Water source for future colonists[edit]

Mars has vast glaciers hidden under a layer of rocky debris over wide areas in the mid-latitudes. These glaciers could be large reservoir of life-supporting water on the planet for simple life forms and for future colonists of the Red Planet. Research by John Holt, of the University of Texas at Austin, and others found that one of the features examined is three times larger than the city of Los Angeles and up to one-half-mile thick, and there are many more.[65][66]

Some of the glacial-like features were revealed by NASA's Viking orbiters in the 1970s. Since that time glacial-like features have been studied by more and more advanced instruments. Much better data has been received from Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "The Surface of Mars" Series: Cambridge Planetary Science (No. 6) ISBN 978-0-511-26688-1 Michael H. Carr, United States Geological Survey, Menlo Park
  2. ^ a b Hugh H. Kieffer (1992). Mars. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0-8165-1257-7. Retrieved March 7, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Milliken, R. E., J. F. Mustard, and D. L. Goldsby. "Viscous flow features on the surface of Mars: Observations from high-resolution Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) images." Journal of Geophysical Research 108.E6 (2003): 5057.
  4. ^ S.W. Squyres, M.H. Carr Geomorphic evidence for the distribution of ground ice on Mars Science, 213 (1986), pp. 249–253. doi:10.1126/science.231.4735.249
  5. ^ J.W. Head, D.R. Marchant, J.L. Dickson, A.M. Kress, D.M. Baker Northern mid-latitude glaciation in the Late Amazonian period of Mars: Criteria for the recognition of debris-covered glacier and valley glacier landsystem deposits Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 294 (2010), pp. 306–320
  6. ^ a b J.W. Holt et al. Radar sounding evidence for buried glaciers in the southern mid-latitudes of Mars Science, 322 (2008), pp. 1235–1238
  7. ^ a b G.A. Morgan, J.W. Head, D.R. Marchant Lineated valley fill (LVF) and lobate debris aprons (LDA) in the Deuteronilus Mensae northern dichotomy boundary region, Mars: Constraints on the extent, age and episodicity of Amazonian glacial events Icarus, 202 (2009), pp. 22–38
  8. ^ a b c J.J. Plaut, A. Safaeinili, J.W. Holt, R.J. Phillips, J.W. Head, R. Sue, N.E. Putzig, A. Frigeri Radar evidence for ice in lobate debris aprons in the mid-northern latitudes of Mars Geophys. Res. Lett., 36 (2009), p. L02203
  9. ^ a b D.M.H. Baker, J.W. Head, D.R. Marchant Flow patterns of lobate debris aprons and lineated valley fill north of Ismeniae Fossae, Mars: Evidence for extensive mid-latitude glaciation in the Late Amazonian Icarus, 207 (2010), pp. 186–209
  10. ^ a b c J. Arfstrom, W.K. Hartmann Martian flow features, moraine-like ridges, and gullies: Terrestrial analogs and interrelationships Icarus, 174 (2005), pp. 321–335
  11. ^ Lucchitta, Baerbel K. "Ice and debris in the fretted terrain, Mars." Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth (1978–2012) 89.S02 (1984): B409-B418.
  12. ^ a b Levy, Joseph S., James W. Head, and David R. Marchant. "Concentric crater fill in Utopia Planitia: History and interaction between glacial “brain terrain” and periglacial mantle processes." Icarus 202.2 (2009): 462-476.Levy, Joseph S., James W. Head, and David R. Marchant. "Concentric crater fill in Utopia Planitia: History and interaction between glacial “brain terrain” and periglacial mantle processes." Icarus 202.2 (2009): 462-476.
  13. ^ Hubbard, Bryn, et al. "Geomorphological characterisation and interpretation of a mid-latitude glacier-like form: Hellas Planitia, Mars." Icarus 211.1 (2011): 330-346.
  14. ^ a b Head, J. W., et al. "Extensive valley glacier deposits in the northern mid-latitudes of Mars: Evidence for Late Amazonian obliquity-driven climate change." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 241.3 (2006): 663-671.
  15. ^ a b Williams, K. E., et al. "Stability of mid-latitude snowpacks on Mars." Icarus 196.2 (2008): 565-577.
  16. ^ Head, J.; Neukum, G.; Jaumann, R.; Hiesinger, H.; Hauber, E.; Carr, M.; Masson, P.; Foing, B. et al. (2005). "Tropical to mid-latitude snow and ice accumulation, flow and glaciation on Mars". Nature 434 (7031): 346–350. Bibcode:2005Natur.434..346H. doi:10.1038/nature03359. PMID 15772652. 
  17. ^ Laskar, Jacques, et al. "Long term evolution and chaotic diffusion of the insolation quantities of Mars." Icarus 170.2 (2004): 343-364.
  18. ^ Head, J. W., et al. "Tropical to mid-latitude snow and ice accumulation, flow and glaciation on Mars." Nature 434.7031 (2005): 346-351.
  19. ^ Shean, David E. (2005). "Origin and evolution of a cold-based tropical mountain glacier on Mars: The Pavonis Mons fan-shaped deposit". Journal of Geophysical Research 110. Bibcode:2005JGRE..11005001S. doi:10.1029/2004JE002360. 
  20. ^ a b Head, James W., and David R. Marchant. "Cold-based mountain glaciers on Mars: western Arsia Mons." Geology 31.7 (2003): 641-644.
  21. ^ Colaprete, Anthony, and Bruce M. Jakosky. "Ice flow and rock glaciers on Mars." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (1991–2012) 103.E3 (1998): 5897-5909.
  22. ^ Haeberli, Wilfried, et al. "Permafrost creep and rock glacier dynamics." Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 17.3 (2006): 189-214.
  23. ^ Squyres, Steven W. "Martian fretted terrain: Flow of erosional debris." Icarus 34.3 (1978): 600-613.
  24. ^ Kreslavsky, Mikhail A., and James W. Head. "Carbon dioxide glaciers on Mars: Products of recent low obliquity epochs (?)." Icarus 216.1 (2011): 111-115.
  25. ^ Milliken, R., J. Mustard, D. Goldsby. 2003. Viscous flow features on the surface of Mars: Observations from high-resolution Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) images. J. Geophys. Res. 108. doi:10.1029/2002JE002005.
  26. ^ Arfstrom, J and W. Hartmann. 2005. Martian flow features, moraine-like ridges, and gullies: Terrestrial analogs and interrelationships. Icarus 174, 321-335.
  27. ^ a b Hubbard B., R. Milliken, J. Kargel , A. Limaye, C. Souness . 2011. Geomorphological characterisation and interpretation of a mid-latitude glacier-like form: Hellas Planitia, Mars Icarus 211, 330–346
  28. ^ Plaut, J. et al. 2008. Radar Evidence for Ice in Lobate Debris Aprons in the Mid-Northern Latitudes of Mars. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIX. 2290.pdf
  29. ^ http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/PSP_009535_2240
  30. ^ Holt, J., A. Safaeinili, J. Plaut, J. Head, R. Phillips, R. Seu, S. Kempf, P. Choudhary, D. Young, N. Putzig, D. Biccari, Y. Gim. 2008. Radar sounding evidence for buried glaciers in the southern mid-latitudes of Mars. Science 322. doi:10.1126/science.1164246.
  31. ^ Plaut, J., A. Safaeinili,, J. Holt, R. Phillips, J. Head, J., R. Seu, N. Putzig, A. Frigeri. 2009. Radar evidence for ice in lobate debris aprons in the midnorthern latitudes of Mars. Geophys. Res. Lett. 36. doi:10.1029/2008GL036379.
  32. ^ Madeleine, J. et al. 2007. Mars: A proposed climatic scenario for northern mid-latitude glaciation. Lunar Planet. Sci. 38. Abstract 1778.
  33. ^ Madeleine, J. et al. 2009. Amazonian northern mid-latitude glaciation on Mars: A proposed climate scenario. Icarus: 203. 300-405.
  34. ^ Mischna, M. et al. 2003. On the orbital forcing of martian water and CO2 cycles: A general circulation model study with simplified volatile schemes. J. Geophys. Res. 108. (E6). 5062.
  35. ^ Touma J. and J. Wisdom. 1993. The Chaotic Obliquity of Mars. Science 259, 1294-1297.
  36. ^ Laskar, J., A. Correia, M. Gastineau, F. Joutel, B. Levrard, and P. Robutel. 2004. Long term evolution and chaotic diffusion of the insolation quantities of Mars. Icarus 170, 343-364.
  37. ^ Levy, J., J. Head, D. Marchant, D. Kowalewski. 2008. Identification of sublimation-type thermal contraction crack polygons at the proposed NASA Phoenix landing site: Implications for substrate properties and climate-driven morphological evolution. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35. doi:10.1029/2007GL032813.
  38. ^ Levy, J., J. Head, D. Marchant. 2009a. Thermal contraction crack polygons on Mars: Classification, distribution, and climate implications from HiRISE observations. J. Geophys. Res. 114. doi:10.1029/2008JE003273.
  39. ^ Hauber, E., D. Reiss, M. Ulrich, F. Preusker, F. Trauthan, M. Zanetti, H. Hiesinger, R. Jaumann, L. Johansson, A. Johnsson, S. Van Gaselt, M. Olvmo. 2011. Landscape evolution in Martian mid-latitude regions: insights from analogous periglacial landforms in Svalbard. In: Balme, M., A. Bargery, C. Gallagher, S. Guta (eds). Martian Geomorphology. Geological Society, London. Special Publications: 356. 111-131
  40. ^ Laskar, J., A. Correia, M. Gastineau, F. Joutel, B. Levrard, and P. Robutel. 2004. Long term evolution and chaotic diffusion of the insolation quantities of Mars. Icarus 170, 343-364.
  41. ^ a b Mellon, M., B. Jakosky. 1995. The distribution and behavior of Martian ground ice during past and present epochs. J. Geophys. Res. 100, 11781–11799.
  42. ^ Schorghofer, N., 2007. Dynamics of ice ages on Mars. Nature 449, 192–194.
  43. ^ Madeleine, J., F. Forget, J. Head, B. Levrard, F. Montmessin. 2007. Exploring the northern mid-latitude glaciation with a general circulation model. In: Seventh International Conference on Mars. Abstract 3096.
  44. ^ Head, J. and D. Marchant. 2006. Evidence for global-scale northern mid-latitude glaciation in the Amazonian period of Mars: Debris-covered glacial and valley glacial deposits in the 30 - 50 N latitude band. Lunar. Planet. Sci. 37. Abstract 1127
  45. ^ Head, J. and D. Marchant. 2006. Modifications of the walls of a Noachian crater in Northern Arabia Terra (24 E, 39 N) during northern mid-latitude Amazonian glacial epochs on Mars: Nature and evolution of Lobate Debris Aprons and their relationships to lineated valley fill and glacial systems. Lunar. Planet. Sci. 37. Abstract 1128
  46. ^ Head, J., et al. 2006. Extensive valley glacier deposits in the northern mid-latitudes of Mars: Evidence for the late Amazonian obliquity-driven climate change. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 241. 663-671
  47. ^ Head, J., et al. 2006. Modification if the dichotomy boundary on Mars by Amazonian mid-latitude regional glaciation. Geophys. Res Lett. 33
  48. ^ Garvin, J. et al. 2002. Lunar Planet. Sci: 33. Abstract # 1255.
  49. ^ http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA09662
  50. ^ Carr, M. 2006. The Surface of Mars. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-87201-0
  51. ^ Squyres, S. 1978. Martian fretted terrain: Flow of erosional debrid. Icarus: 34. 600-613.
  52. ^ Levy, J. et al. 2007. Lineated valley fill and lobate debris apron stratigraphy in Nilosyrtis Mensae, Mars: Evidence for phases of glacial modification of the dichotomy boundary. J. Geophys. Res. 112
  53. ^ Baker, D., et al. 2009. Flow patterns of lobate debris aprons and lineated valley fill north of Ismeniae Fossae, Mars: Evidence for extensive mid-latitude glaciation in the Late Amazonian. Icarus: 207. 186-209.
  54. ^ Marchant, D. and J. Head. 2007. Antarctic dry valleys: Microclimate zonation, variable geomorphic processes, and implications for assessing climatic change on Mars. Icarus: 192.187-222
  55. ^ Dickson, J. , et al. 2008. Late Amazonian glaciation at the dichotomy boundary on Mars: Evidence for glacial thickness maxima and multiple glacial phases. Geology: 36 (5) 411-415
  56. ^ Kress, A., et al. 2006. The nature of the transition from lobate debris aprons to lineated valley fill: Mamers Valles, Northern Arabia Terra-Deuteronilus Mensae region on Mars. Lunar. Planet. Sci. 37. Abstract 1323
  57. ^ Levy, J., J. Head, D. Marchant. 2009. Concentric crater fill in Utopia Planitia: History and interaction between glacial ‘‘brain terrain’’ and periglacial mantle processes. Icarus 202, 462–476.
  58. ^ Souness, C. and B. Hubbard. 2013. An alternative interpretation of late Amazonian ice flow: Protonilus Mensae, Mars. Icarus 225, 495-505.
  59. ^ Barlow, N. 2008. Mars: An Introduction to its Interior, Surface and Atmosphere. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-85226-5
  60. ^ Forget, F., et al. 2006. Planet Mars Story of Another World. Praxis Publishing, Chichester, UK. ISBN 978-0-387-48925-4
  61. ^ Hauber, E. et al.; Van Gasselt, Stephan; Ivanov, Boris; Werner, Stephanie; Head, James W.; Neukum, Gerhard; Jaumann, Ralf; Greeley, Ronald; Mitchell, Karl L.; Muller, Peter; Co-Investigator Team, The Hrsc (2005). "Discovery of a flank caldera and very young glacial activity at Hecates Tholus, Mars". Nature 434 (7031): 356–61. Bibcode:2005Natur.434..356H. doi:10.1038/nature03423. PMID 15772654. 
  62. ^ Shean, David E.; Head, James W.; Fastook, James L.; Marchant, David R. (2007). "Recent glaciation at high elevations on Arsia Mons, Mars: Implications for the formation and evolution of large tropical mountain glaciers" (PDF). Journal of Geophysical Research 112 (E3): E03004. Bibcode:2007JGRE..11203004S. doi:10.1029/2006JE002761. 
  63. ^ Shean, D. et al. (2005). "Origin and evolution of a cold-based mountain glacier on Mars: The Pavonis Mons fan-shaped deposit". Journal of Geophysical Research 110 (E5): E05001. Bibcode:2005JGRE..11005001S. doi:10.1029/2004JE002360. 
  64. ^ Basilevsky, A.; Werner, S. C.; Neukum, G.; Head, J. W.; Van Gasselt, S.; Gwinner, K.; Ivanov, B. A. (2006). "Geological recent tectonic, volcanic and fluvial activity on the eastern flank of the Olympus Mons volcano, Mars". Geophysical Research Letters 33 (13): 13201, L13201. Bibcode:2006GeoRL..3313201B. doi:10.1029/2006GL026396. 
  65. ^ .http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article5200977.ec
  66. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27827606/ns/technology_and_science-space/t/buried-glacier-found-mars/

See also[edit]