The origin and evolution of the Peace Vallis fan system that drains to the Curiosity landing area, Gale Crater, Mars

Research areas:
Year:
2014
Authors:
  • Marisa C. Palucis
  • William E. Dietrich
  • Alexander G. Hayes
  • Rebecca M. E. Williams
  • Sanjeev Gupta
  • Nicolas Mangold
  • Horton Newsom
  • Craig Hardgrove
  • III Calef
  • Dawn Y. Sumner
Journal:
JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-PLANETS
Volume:
119
Number:
4
Pages:
705-728
Month:
April
ISSN:
2169-9097
Abstract:
The landing site for the Curiosity rover is located at the distal end of the Peace Vallis fan in Gale Crater. Peace Vallis fan covers 80km(2) and is fed by a 730km(2) catchment, which drains an upland plains area through a 15km wide gap in the crater rim. Valley incision into accumulated debris delivered sediment through a relatively low density valley network to a main stem channel to the fan. An estimated total fan volume of 0.9km(3) matches the calculated volume of removal due to valley incision (0.8km(3)) and indicates a mean thickness of 9m. The fan profile is weakly concave up with a mean slope of 1.5% for the lower portion. Numerous inverted channels outcrop on the western surface of the fan, but on the eastern portion such channels are rare suggesting a change in process from distributary channel domination on the west to sheet flow on the eastern portion of the fan. Runoff (discharge/watershed area) to produce the fan is estimated to be more than 600m, perhaps as much as 6000m, indicating a hydrologic cycle that likely lasted at least thousands of years. Atmospheric precipitation (possibly snow) not seepage produced the runoff. Based on topographic data, Peace Vallis fan likely onlapped Bradbury Rise and spilled into a topographic low to the east of the rise. This argues that the light-toned fractured terrain within this topographic low corresponds to the distal deposits of Peace Vallis fan, and in such a setting, lacustrine deposits are expected.Key Points <list list-type=\"bulleted\" id=\"jgre20227-list-0001\"> <list-item id=\"jgre20227-li-0001\">Distal end of Peace Vallis fan was near MSL landing <list-item id=\"jgre20227-li-0002\">Sediment in the fan was derived from valley incision into colluvium <list-item id=\"jgre20227-li-0003\">Fan morphology consistent with fluvial processes