Discontinuous drainage systems formed by highland precipitation and ground-water outflow in the Navua Valles and southwest Hadriacus Mons regions, Mars

H. I. Hargitai, V. C. Gulick, N. H. Glines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The Navua Valles are systems of paleodrainages located north of Dao Vallis, which empty into Hellas Planitia, the largest impact basin on Mars. In this study, we mapped and characterized the Navua Valles Region's individual drainage systems, including drainages along the southwestern flank of Hadriacus Mons, and one valley network from the same source as Navua Valles but flowing in the opposite direction. The major drainage systems share morphological characteristics common to both outflow channels and valley networks. The slopes in this region are dissected by two major Navua drainage systems (here Navua A* and B*) and several shorter, sub-parallel valleys formed on the highest gradient (approximately 20 m/km [1.15°]) slopes, at the lowest part of Hellas Basin's rim. The two major drainage systems originate in the highlands, and empty into the basin. Our mapping suggests that water in Navua Valles reached the basin floor in a complicated descent and included several episodes of surface ponding, surface runoff, infiltration, subsurface flow and subsequent outflow. The most prominent channel system, Navua A, forms a repetitive sequence of deep incision into bedrock, followed by a transition into broad channels in erodible materials, and then into unconfined deposits. This successive erosion–transport–deposition sequence continues to repeat along the valley's entire length forming a discontinuous pattern that is consistent with classical fluvial process models. The channels cut into volcanic plains likely emplaced from the formation of Tyrrhenus and Hadriacus Montes. The dendritic source valleys of Navua A originate from the rim of a highland crater while the rest of this subsystem consists of a single, discontinuous channel which is consistent with a single water source zone that likely supplied water for all channels downslope. These drainages may have formed as discontinuous channels, revealing the potential existence of subsurface drainage pathways located within an approximately 1.5 × 105 km2 area. Water transported underground emerged in segments that are either isolated or aligned downslope from each other. We have identified several causes of discontinuities, located the zones of potential ground-water discharge and recharge, and a site of localized precipitation at the headwaters of Navua A.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-200
Number of pages29
StatePublished - Sep 15 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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