Radar investigations of Apollinaris Mons on Mars: Exploring the origin of the fan deposits

M. R. El-Maarry, Essam Heggy, J. M. Dohm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Apollinaris Mons is an isolated volcano on Mars straddling the boundary between the southern highlands and the northern plains. One of its most distinctive features is its massive fan-shaped deposit that extends from a breach on its summit to distances of more than 150 km and drapes its entire southern flank. The composition and formation mechanism of these deposits remains controversial. We investigate the radar properties of the fan deposits (FD) of Apollinaris Mons using low-frequency sounding radar data in combination with high-resolution images and crater-size frequency analysis to constrain their inner shape and bulk composition. Our analysis indicates that the FD attains an irregular thickness and is gradually thinner towards their lateral margins. The crater-size frequency analysis shows that they may have undergone repeated resurfacing, which is suggestive of long-term evolution. Our analysis of Shallow Radar (SHARAD) radargrams traversing different sections of the FD reveals multiple and different subsurface interfaces among the radargrams crossing the thinnest part, which suggests a layered and complex inner shape. Our estimates for the bulk real part of the dielectric constant of the FD ranges from 3 to 5, which is consistent with an icy-silicate mixture or pyroclastic composition. Therefore, we conclude that lahars or pyroclastic flows are the most likely mechanism that created the FD, yet we cannot rule out additional contributions from lava flows. A combination of multiple processes is also possible since the deposits appear to have been modified by fluvial processes at a later stage of their formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-272
Number of pages11
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Volume103
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Geomorphology
  • Mars
  • Radar
  • Volcanology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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