Episodes of fluvial and volcanic activity in Mangala Valles, Mars

Amber L. Keske, Christopher W. Hamilton, Alfred S. McEwen, Ingrid J. Daubar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A new mapping-based study of the 900-km-long Mangala Valles outflow system was motivated by the availability of new high-resolution images and continued debates about the roles of water and lava in outflow channels on Mars. This study uses photogeologic analysis, geomorphic surface mapping, cratering statistics, and relative stratigraphy. Results show that Mangala Valles underwent at least two episodes of fluvial activity and at least three episodes of volcanic activity during the Late Amazonian. The occurrence of scoured bedrock at the base of the mapped stratigraphy, in addition to evidence provided by crater retention ages, suggests that fluvial activity preceded the deposition of two of the volcanic units. Crater counts performed at 30 locations throughout the area have allowed us to construct the following timeline: (1) formation of Noachian Highlands and possible initial flooding event(s) before ~1. Ga, (2) emplacement of Tharsis lava flows in the valley from ~700 to 1000. Ma, (3) a megaflooding event at ~700-800. Ma sourced from Mangala Fossa, (4) valley fill by a sequence of lava flows sourced from Mangala Fossa ~400-500. Ma, (5) another megaflooding event from ~400. Ma, (6) a final phase of volcanism sourced from Mangala Fossa ~300-350. Ma, and (7) emplacement of eolian sedimentary deposits in the northern portion of the valley ~300. Ma. These results are consistent with alternating episodes of aqueous flooding and volcanism in the valles. This pattern of geologic activity is similar to that of other outflow systems, such as Kasei Valles, suggesting that there is a recurring, and perhaps coupled, nature of these processes on Mars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-347
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2015


  • Geological processes
  • Mars, surface
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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