Episodic ocean-induced CO2greenhouse on Mars: Implications for fluvial valley formation

V. C. Gulick, D. Tyler, C. P. McKay, R. M. Haberle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Pulses of CO2injected into the martian atmosphere more recently than 4 Ga can place the atmosphere into a stable, higher pressure, warmer greenhouse state. One to two bar pulses of CO2added to the atmosphere during the past several billion years are sufficient to raise global mean temperatures above 240 or 250 K for tens to hundreds of millions of years, even when accounting for CO2condensation. Over time, the added CO2is lost to carbonates, the atmosphere collapses and returns to its buffered state. A substantial amount of water could be transported during the greenhouse periods from the surface of a frozen body of water created by outflow channel discharges to higher elevations, despite global temperatures well below freezing. This water, precipitated as snow, could ultimately form fluvial valleys if deposition sites are associated with localized heat sources, such as magmatic intrusions or volcanoes. Thus, if outflow channel discharges were accompanied by the release of sufficient quantities of CO2, a limited hydrological cycle could have resulted that would have been capable of producing geomorphic change sufficient for fluvial erosion and valley formation. Glacial or periglacial landforms would also be a consequence of such a mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-86
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Episodic ocean-induced CO2greenhouse on Mars: Implications for fluvial valley formation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this