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Highlight of the Month :

Outflow channels near Hadriaca Patera volcano

Hadriaca Patera is a large shield volcano on Mars, east of the Hellas impact basin. With a diameter of over 300 km it is similar in size to Hawaii, the largest volcanic island on Earth. Hadriaca Patera is only 1 km high, hence it belongs to the Martian paterae volcanoes (lat. patera: flat bowl).

HRSC nadir mosaic with 50 meter per pixel resolution. Investigated features near Hadriaca Patera. Outflow channels Dao, Niger and Harmakhis Vallis, as well as collapse depressions Peraea and Ausonia Cavus.

South of Hadriaca Patera there are three channel systems: Dao Vallis, Niger Vallis and Harmakhis Vallis (lat. vallis: Tal). Nowadays, the channels are desiccated, but it is assumed that 3.5 Ga ago water flowed through them. The origin of the channels is still obscure. Maybe they were fed by surface run-off, or, alternatively, they have been created by ascending groundwater from subsurface sources. Another hypothesis claims that the channels were created by water from melted ice.

HRSC digital terrain model color mosaic with 125 meter per pixel resolution. Circumference of the volcano Hadriaca Patera given by a white dashed line. The hatched area marks a region of fractures due to the volcanic load.

In a publication in 2011 a science team around Stefanie Musiol at the Freie Universität Berlin analyzed in a first step remote sensing data from the Hadriaca Patera region. Image data comes from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on ESA's Mars mission Mars Express and the Context Camera (CTX) on NASA's Mars mission Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. In a second step a computer model was done in order to investigate the evolution of the volcano and its influence on a hypothetical groundwater aquifer.

Sequence of fracturing, collapse, and erosion. a) HRSC image with 25 meter per pixel resolution. Fissures pointed out by white arrows. b) CTX image with 6 meter per pixel resolution. Blocks and mesas in Niger Vallis. c and d) CTX images with 6 meter per pixel resolution. Collapse in the depressed areas.

Results show that the volcanic load leads to fractures and faults in the Martian crust at the foot of the volcano, potential pathways for groundwater in the past. Where the groundwater reached the surface, depressions and collapse features formed, which are visible today as cavi (lat. cavus: hollow, curved). Consequently, the surface topography and the origin of the channels can be explained.

Original citation: Musiol, S., B. Cailleau, T. Platz, T. Kneissl, A. Dumke, and G. Neukum (2011), Outflow activity near Hadriaca Patera, Mars: Fluid-tectonic interaction investigated with High Resolution Stereo Camera stereo data and finite element modeling, J. Geophys. Res., 116, E08001, doi:10.1029/2010JE003791.

See also the following releases:

Highlight of the Month March 2011: #001 - Dao and Niger Valles
Highlight of the Month February 2012: #012 - Dao and Niger Valles Animation
HRSC Press Release #067 - Dao Vallis (Orbit 0528)

The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) experiment on the ESA Mars Express Mission is led by the Principal Investigator (PI) Prof. Dr. Gerhard Neukum who also designed the camera technically. The science team of the experiment consists of 40 Co-Investigators from 33 institutions and 10 nations. The camera was developed at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) under the leadership of the PI G. Neukum and built in cooperation with industrial partners (EADS Astrium, Lewicki Microelectronic GmbH and Jena-Optronik GmbH). The experiment on Mars Express is operated by the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, through ESA/ESOC. The systematic processing of the HRSC image data is carried out at DLR. The scenes shown here were created by the PI-group at the Institute for Geological Sciences of the Freie Universitaet Berlin.

hochaufgelöste Bilddaten / high resolution image data

© Copyright: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)


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