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Stratigraphy of the north polar layered deposits of Mars from high-resolution topography

August 1, 2016

The stratigraphy of the layered deposits of the polar regions of Mars is theorized to contain a record of recent climate change linked to insolation changes driven by variations in the planet's orbital and rotational parameters. In order to confidently link stratigraphic signals to insolation periodicities, a description of the stratigraphy is required based on quantities that directly relate to intrinsic properties of the layers. We use stereo Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) to derive a characteristic of North Polar Layered Deposits (NPLD) strata that can be correlated over large distances: the topographic protrusion of layers exposed in troughs, which is a proxy for the layers’ resistance to erosion. Using a combination of image analysis and a signal-matching algorithm to correlate continuous depth-protrusion signals taken from DTMs at different locations, we construct a stratigraphic column that describes the upper ~500 m of at least 7% of the area of the NPLD, and find accumulation rates that vary by factors of up to two. We find that, when coupled with observations of exposed layers in orbital images, the topographic expression of the strata is consistently continuous through large distances in the top 300 – 500 m of the NPLD, suggesting it is better related to intrinsic layer properties than brightness alone.

Publication Year 2016
Title Stratigraphy of the north polar layered deposits of Mars from high-resolution topography
DOI 10.1002/2015JE004992
Authors Patricio Becerra, Shane Byrne, Michael M. Sori, Sarah Sutton, Kenneth E. Herkenhoff
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Index ID 70175198
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center