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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 1:20 EDT
Noctis Labyrinthus
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Noctis Labyrinthus

October 7, 2009
This image shows a portion of Noctis Labyrinthus, a large valley system at the western end of the Valles Marineris canyon system. Noctis Labyrinthus is notable for its unusual pattern of intersecting valleys, which give the region a maze-like appearance when viewed from above. The walls of these valleys are very high (~5 km) and quite steep, with slopes approaching 35°. Dust covers most of this region, leading to its rather uniform appearance. At the tops of the ridgelines, small dark streaks can be observed trailing downslope; these streaks suggest that the sediments covering this area occasionally become unstable and slide. Ridges of resistant material also can be observed in the highest terrains. In the lower half of the image, a small linear feature appears to cut across the generally NE/SW-trending slopes. This feature is not continuous, indicating that geologic activity has disrupted it since its formation. The northeastern termination of the feature is on a mesa, where it is joined by a less pronounced but similar feature that trends NE/SW. These small features may have originated in several ways: they may be ridges formed by compression, they may be small fault scarps, or they may represent the edges of ancient lava flows that have been disrupted by the formation of the valley system. Some slope faces have developed dunes, suggesting a continuing reworking of the loose material on the slopes.