Recent bright gully deposits on Mars: Wet or dry flow?

Jon D. Pelletier, Kelly J. Kolb, Alfred S. McEwen, Randy L. Kirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Bright gully sediments attributed to liquid water flow have been deposited on Mars within the past several years. To test the liquid water flow hypothesis, we constructed a high-resolution (1 m/pixel) photogrammetric digital elevation model of a crater in the Centauri Montes region, where a bright gully deposit formed between 2001 and 2005. We conducted one-dimensional (1-D) and 2-D numerical flow modeling to test whether the deposit morphology is most consistent with liquid water or dry granular How. Liquid water flow models that incorporate freezing can match the runout distance of the flow for certain freezing rates but fail to reconstruct the distributary lobe morphology of the distal end of the deposit. Dry granular flow models can match both the observed runout distance and the distal morphology. Wet debris flows with high sediment concentrations are also consistent with the observed morphology because their rheologies are often similar to that of dry granular flows. As such, the presence of liquid water in this flow event cannot be ruled out, but the available evidence is consistent with dry landsliding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-214
Number of pages4
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Fluvial
  • Mars
  • Mass wasting
  • Numerical model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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