Deltaic deposits at Aeolis Dorsa: Sedimentary evidence for a standing body of water on the northern plains of Mars

Roman A. DiBiase, Ajay B. Limaye, Joel S. Scheingross, Woodward W. Fischer, Michael P. Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A fundamental long-standing question regarding Mars history is whether the flat and low-lying northern plains ever hosted an ocean. The best opportunity to solve this problem is provided by stratigraphic observations of sedimentary deposits onlapping the crustal dichotomy. Here, we use high-resolution imagery and topography to analyze a branching network of inverted channel and channel lobe deposits in the Aeolis Dorsa region, just north of the dichotomy boundary. Observations of stacked, cross-cutting channel bodies and stratal geometries indicate that these landforms represent exhumed distributary channel deposits. Observations of depositional trunk feeder channel bodies, a lack of evidence for past topographic confinement, channel avulsions at similar elevations, and the presence of a strong break in dip slope between topset and foreset beds suggest that this distributary system was most likely a delta, rather than an alluvial fan or submarine fan. Sediment transport calculations using both measured and derived channel geometries indicate a minimum delta deposition time on the order of 400 years. The location of this delta within a thick and widespread clastic wedge abutting the crustal dichotomy boundary, unconfined by any observable craters, suggests a standing body of water potentially 105 km 2 in extent or greater and is spatially consistent with hypotheses for a northern ocean. Key Points Stratigraphic analysis reveals paleoflow direction of branching channel networksBackwater scaling relationships enable flow reconstructions of deltaic depositsDeltaic deposits at Aeolis Dorsa support the presence of a past unconfined sea

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1285-1302
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Volume118
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 28 2013

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deltaic deposit
plains
mars
body water
Mars
Deposits
deposits
fans (equipment)
Water
branching
oceans
dichotomies
water
Fans
landforms
sediment transport
Landforms
topography
Geometry
Sediment transport

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

Cite this

DiBiase, Roman A. ; Limaye, Ajay B. ; Scheingross, Joel S. ; Fischer, Woodward W. ; Lamb, Michael P. / Deltaic deposits at Aeolis Dorsa : Sedimentary evidence for a standing body of water on the northern plains of Mars. In: Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets. 2013 ; Vol. 118, No. 6. pp. 1285-1302.
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Deltaic deposits at Aeolis Dorsa : Sedimentary evidence for a standing body of water on the northern plains of Mars. / DiBiase, Roman A.; Limaye, Ajay B.; Scheingross, Joel S.; Fischer, Woodward W.; Lamb, Michael P.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets, Vol. 118, No. 6, 28.08.2013, p. 1285-1302.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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