Evidence For An Ancient Sea Level On Mars

Two distinct southern and northern hemispheres on Mars separated by the proposed sea level (the solid line) at height h = hc. Different colors show isolated islands, and regions under water are shown in white.

Mars shares many similarities and characteristics to Earth including various geological features and planetary structure. The remarkable bimodal distribution of elevations in both planets is one of the most striking global features suggesting similar geodynamic processes of crustal differentiation on Earth and Mars.

There also exist several evidences, based on geographic features resembling ancient shorelines, for existence of an ancient martian ocean in the northern hemisphere which covers nearly one third of the planet's surface. However, the interpretation of some features as ancient shorelines has been thoroughly challenged that left the existence of a primordial martian ocean controversial. Moreover, if oceans were formerly present on Mars, there is still a big ambiguity about the volume of water with the estimations ranging over 4 orders of magnitude.

Here we map the martian sea level problem onto a percolation model that provides strong evidence that the longest iso-height line on Mars that separates the northern and southern hemispheres, acts as a critical level height with divergent correlation length and plays the same role as the present mean sea level does on Earth. Our results unravel remarkable similarities between Mars and Earth, posing a testable hypothesis about the level of the ancient ocean on Mars that can be answered experimentally by the future investigations and spacecraft exploration.

Abbas Ali Saberi
Comments: 16 pages, 12 figures, to appear in "The Astrophysical Journal Letters"
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Statistical Mechanics (cond-mat.stat-mech); Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (physics.ao-ph); Geophysics (physics.geo-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:2006.02164 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2006.02164v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Abbas Saberi Abbas Ali Saberi
[v1] Wed, 3 Jun 2020 10:57:34 UTC (1,154 KB)

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