Unique and Potentially Mars-Relevant Flow Regime and Water Sources at a High Andes-Atacama Site

Kereszturi, Ákos (2020) Unique and Potentially Mars-Relevant Flow Regime and Water Sources at a High Andes-Atacama Site. Astrobiology, 20 (6). pp. 723-740. ISSN 1531-1074 (print); 1557-8070 (online)

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A field expedition in the High Andes/Atacama Desert region revealed two types of flow-produced structures and a unique flow regime. Gullies somewhat smaller than those on Mars (width: 0.2-1 m, depth: 0.2-0.6 m, length: 4-60 m) were observed as mainly erosional structures. The other flow-related feature called infilled valleys showed activity only in specific, spatially discrete areas during the daytime. The active sections were composed of a source depression where liquid H2O was produced from subsurface buried sources, which flowed down and percolated into fine-grained infilling material of the valley. Several such active sections could be present along one valley, separated by inactive ones. Three types of H2O sources fed them: buried snow, surface snow, and ice left behind from the liquid water that had emerged the preceding day. This latter source has not yet been suggested for Mars. Some aspects related to the formation of the gullies and infilled valleys (H2O budget, albedo, erosional processes) may be similar with the formation processes hypothesized for the recurring slope lineae on Mars. The observed diurnal spatially discrete activity of the infilled valleys is related to the interaction of insolation and mass movement of exhumed subsurface snow, which is also believed to exist on Mars. The Ojos del Salado site is unique in that, despite it being located in the hyperarid High Andes/Atacama Desert region, material from rare snowfall events has been protected due to burial by grains transported by strong winds, supporting ephemeral melting in the long term.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science / természettudomány > QB Astronomy, Astrophysics / csillagászat, asztrofizika
Q Science / természettudomány > QE Geology / földtudományok
Depositing User: dr. Ákos Kereszturi
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2021 14:18
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2021 14:18

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