Erosion in Martian Gullies Figure B
October 19, 2009
Figure B: The second picture shows a gully that formed on the wall of a crater that intersected a mare-type ridge. The term, mare, is from the dark volcanic plains of Earth's moon, for example Mare Tranquilitatis was the plain on which the Apollo 11 crew landed in 1969. The lunar maria (maria is the plural form of mare), when viewed from above, have many "wrinkle" ridges. These ridges are the surface expression of thrust faults. The mare-type ridge in the picture shown here is thus the product of faulting, as rocks on the west (left) side of the image were thrust toward the east (right). Finding a gully associated with a fault is excellent evidence for the groundwater hypothesis, because ground water percolates through cracks and pores in the ground. On Earth, springs (where groundwater comes to the surface) are often found along fault lines. What is most important about this particular Martian gully is that it occurs equatorward of 30 degrees south, which is extremely unusual. The only gully in this crater is the one associated with the fault. It is essentially the site of a spring, now dried up perhaps. This picture is a sub-frame of an image located near 29.1 degrees south latitude, 207.5 degrees west longitude, acquired on Jan. 17, 2005.