Episodes of Aqueous Flooding and Effusive Volcanism Associated With Hrad Vallis, Mars

Christopher W. Hamilton, Peter J. Mouginis-Mark, Michael M. Sori, Stephen P. Scheidt, Ali M. Bramson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Hrad Vallis is an Amazonian-age outflow channel located in the northwestern part of the Elysium Volcanic Province of Mars. The formation of Hrad Vallis may have been associated with catastrophic aqueous floods and volcanism, which makes determining its emplacement history important for constraining the planet's hydrological and thermal evolution during the Amazonian Period. Through geological mapping, geomorphologic analysis, and numerical simulations we assess whether Hrad Vallis formed in association with mudflows (i.e., lahars), effusive volcanism, or a combination of both processes. Among the three youngest flows in the region, the lower and upper flow units are inferred to be the products of catastrophic aqueous floods, whereas the middle unit is interpreted to be pāhoehoe-like lava flow formed through the process of inflation over the course of decades. The latter flow unit is similar to terrestrial lava-rise plateaus, but its emplacement may have involved interactions with surficial ice deposits, which affected the flow path and resulted in a range of lava-water interactions. We conclude that Hrad Vallis had a complex history involving episodes of both aqueous flooding and effusive volcanism and that the interactions between lava and ice in these regions may have generated ephemeral hydrothermal systems with potential astrobiological significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1484-1510
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Hrad Vallis
  • Mars
  • flood
  • lahar
  • lava
  • outflow channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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