Liquid CO2 breakout and the formation of recent small gullies on Mars

D. S. Musselwhite, T. D. Swindle, J. I. Lunine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


We show that the action of a CO2 suspended flow could have produced the recent small gullies on Mars, and, hence, that liquid water is not required. The model involves the build-up of a liquid-CO2 aquifer behind and below a dry-ice barrier (dam/cap rock) in the pore spaces a few meters into the rock from the cliff face and on order of a hundred meters below the top of the cliff brink surface. Seasonal for obliquity-cycle-seasonal) heating causes pinching out of the dry-ice barrier and rapid release of the liquid CO2. Erosion of the gullies occurs as the rapid vaporization of the liquid CO2 with entrainment of rock and clathrate-hydrate ice produces a density flow analogous to a terrestrial nue ardente.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1283-1285
Number of pages3
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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