Did the martian outflow channels mostly form during the Amazonian Period?

J. Alexis P. Rodriguez, Thomas Platz, Virginia Gulick, Victor R. Baker, Alberto G. Fairén, Jeffrey Kargel, Jianguo Yan, Hideaki Miyamoto, Natalie Glines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Simud, Tiu, and Ares Valles comprise some of the largest outflow channels on Mars. Their excavation has been attributed variously to (or a combination of) erosion by catastrophic floods, glaciers, and debris flows. Numerous investigations indicate that they formed largely during the Late Hesperian (3.61-3.37. Ga). However, these studies mostly equate the ages of the outflow channel floors to those of the flows that generated mesoscale (several hundred meters to a few kilometers) bedforms within them. To improve the statistical accuracy in the age determinations of these flow events, we have used recently acquired high-resolution image and topographic data to map and date portions of Simud, Tiu and Ares Valles, which are extensively marked by these bedforms. Our results, which remove the statistical effects of older and younger outflow channel floor surfaces on the generation of modeled ages, reveal evidence for major outflow channel discharges occurring during the Early (3.37-1.23. Ga) and Middle (1.23-0.328. Ga) Amazonian, with activity significantly peaking during the Middle Amazonian stages. We also find that during the documented stages of Middle Amazonian discharges, the floor of Tiu Valles underwent widespread collapse, resulting in chaotic terrain formation. In addition, we present evidence showing that following the outflow channel discharges, collapse within northern Simud Valles generated another chaotic terrain. This younger chaos region likely represents the latest stage of large-scale outflow channel resurfacing within the study area. Our findings imply that in southern circum-Chryse the martian hydrosphere experienced large-scale drainage during the Amazonian, which likely led to periodic inundation and sedimentation within the northern plains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-395
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Hydrology
  • Mars
  • Surface
  • Terrestrial planets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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