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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Richard Massey

Orgel, Csilla, Hauber, Ernst, Gasselt, Stephan, Reiss, Dennis, Johnsson, Andreas, Ramsdale, Jason D., Smith, Isaac, Swirad, Zuzanna M., Séjourné, Antoine, Wilson, Jack T., Balme, Matthew R., Conway, Susan J., Costard, Francois, Eke, Vince R., Gallagher, Colman, Kereszturi, Ákos, Łosiak, Anna, Massey, Richard J., Platz, Thomas, Skinner, James A. & Teodoro, Luis F. A. (2019). Grid Mapping the Northern Plains of Mars: A New Overview of Recent Water‐ and Ice‐Related Landforms in Acidalia Planitia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 124(2): 454-482.

Author(s) from Durham


We used a grid‐mapping technique to analyze the distribution of 13 water‐ and ice‐related landforms in Acidalia Planitia as part of a joint effort to study the three main basins in the northern lowlands of Mars, that is, Acidalia, Utopia, and Arcadia Planitiae. The landforms were mapped at full Context Camera resolution along a 300‐km‐wide strip from 20°N to 84°N. We identified four landform assemblages: (1) Geologically recent polar cap (massive ice), which superposes the latitude‐dependent mantle (LDM) (LA1); (2) ice‐related landforms, such as LDM, textured terrain, small‐scale polygons, scalloped terrain, large‐scale viscous flow features, and gullies, which have an overlapping distribution (LA2); (3) surface features possibly related to water and subsurface sediment mobilization (LA3; kilometer‐scale polygons, large pitted mounds, small pitted mounds, thumbprint terrain); and (4) irregularly shaped pits with raised rims on equator‐facing slopes. Pits are likely the result of an energetic release of volatiles (H2O, CO2, and CH4), rather than impact‐, volcanism‐, or wind‐related processes. LDM occurs ubiquitously from 44°N to 78°N in Acidalia Planitia. Various observations suggest an origin of air fall deposition of LDM, which contains less ice in the uppermost tens of meters in Acidalia Planitia than in Arcadia and Utopia Planitiae. However, LDM may be thicker and more extended in the past in Acidalia Planitia. The transition between LDM‐free terrain and LDM is situated further north than in Utopia and Arcadia Planitiae, suggesting different past and/or present climatic conditions among the main basins in the northern lowlands.