AN INVESTIGATION OF THE HYPOTHESES FOR FORMATION OF THE PLATY-RIDGED-POLYGONIZED TERRAIN IN ELYSIUM PLANITIA, MARS
Keywords: Mars, Elysium Planitia, platy-ridged-polygonized terrain, mud flow
Abstract. The origin of the platy-ridged-polygonized (PRP) terrains on Martian surface has long been debated. The terrain has generally been classified as water, pack ice, or basalt lava related flow. The crater counting results of the PRP terrains suggest they are geologically very young; therefore, they are significant in understanding the recent evolution of Mars. This work evaluated the current hypotheses through detailed analysis of the distribution and microtopographies with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) images for the PRP terrains in Elysium Planitia, Mars. Quantitative measurements and statistics of the typical features of the PRP terrains were also made. In addition, we also found an analog site in Tarim Basin in Xinjiang, China. Our results suggest that mud flow is responsible for the formation of the PRP terrains on the Mars surface, although the hypothesis of low-viscosity basalt lava floods cannot be completely excluded. This finding implies that a regional environment suitable for liquid water may have existed in recent geologic time, which has great importance for future Mars scientific exploration.