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Debris-flow origin for the Simud/Tiu deposit on Mars

January 1, 1999

A late Hesperian smooth plains deposit on Mars interpreted as a debris flow extends more than 2000 km from Hydraotes Chaos, through Simud and Tiu Valles, and into Chryse Planitia. The Simud/Tiu deposit widens out to >1000 km and embays streamlined landforms and knobs made up of sedimentary and perhaps volcanic deposits that were carved by earlier channeling activity. Morphologic features of the Simud/Tiu deposit observed in Viking and Pathfinder images are generally consistent with a debris-flow origin, but some of the deposit's salient features are not readily explained by catastrophic flooding or ice flow. Internal depressions appear to be bounded by linear scarps along flow margins where differential shearing may have occurred and in areas where flow spreading may have produced zones of extensional breakup and thinning within the flow. Possible flow lobes within the deposit may have formed by successive flow surges within the flow unit. The Pathfinder landing site is on the Simud/Tiu deposit, and the observations there are consistent with debris flow. The low, longitudinal ridges at the site may have formed by clast interactions as the flow ground to a halt. Imbricated, planar rocks on the ridges, such as in the Rock Garden, also may have been emplaced by debris or ice flow. However, stream energy calculations at Ares Vallis and channel geology indicate that flooding probably was incapable of emplacing the meter-size boulders observed at the Pathfinder site. Dewatering of pressurized zones in the debris flow or underlying material may be responsible for mud eruptions that formed a couple of patches of low pancakelike shields up to 5 km in diameter and for probable water flows that formed two small rille channels a few kilometers long. Local irregular grooves may be cracks that resulted from later desiccation and contraction of the flow material. The debris-flow unit apparently coalesced from outflows of water-fluidized debris originating from beneath chaotic and hummocky terrains within and along the margins of Simud and Tiu Valles. The deposit is onlapped from the north by another flow deposit originating from Acidalia Planitia. If the Simud/Tiu debris flow had entered a standing body of water, a turbidity current may have arisen from the debris flow and then backflowed over the debris flow to account for the Acidalia deposit.

Publication Year 1999
Title Debris-flow origin for the Simud/Tiu deposit on Mars
Authors K. L. Tanaka
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Index ID 70021736
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse