Friday, January 12, 2018

Water Ice Cliffs On Mars

Thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle; erosion in these regions creates scarps that expose the internal structure of the mantle.  We investigated eight of these locations and found that they expose deposits of water ice that can be >100 meters thick, extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to 2 meters below the surface.  The scarps are actively retreating because of sublimation of the exposed water ice.  The ice deposits likely originated as snowfall during Mars' high-obliquity periods and have now compacted into massive, fractured, and layered ice.  We expect the vertical structure of Martian ice-rich deposits to preserve a record of ice deposition and past climate.

-- Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes, Abstract, Colin M. Dundas, Ali M. Bramson2, Lujendra Ojha3, James J. Wray4, Michael T. Mellon5, Shane Byrne2, Alfred S. McEwen2, Nathaniel E. Putzig6, Donna Viola2, Sarah Sutton2, Erin Clark2, John W. Holt7, Science, 12 January 2018: Vol. 359, Issue 6372, pp. 199-201

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