Mars Sedimentary Rock Erosion Rates and Organic Matter Preservation

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 11, 2016
Filed under
Mars Sedimentary Rock Erosion Rates and Organic Matter Preservation

Small-crater counts on Mars light-toned sedimentary rock are often inconsistent with any isochron; these data are usually plotted then ignored.

We show (using an 18-HiRISE-image, >10^4 crater dataset) that these non-isochron crater counts are often well-fit by a model where crater production is balanced by crater obliteration via steady exhumation. For these regions, we fit erosion rates.

We infer that Mars light-toned sedimentary rocks typically erode at ~10^2 nm/yr, when averaged over 10 km^2 scales and 10^7-10^8 yr timescales. Crater-based erosion-rate determination is consistent with independent techniques, but can be applied to nearly all light-toned sedimentary rocks on Mars.

Erosion is swift enough that radiolysis cannot destroy complex organic matter at some locations (e.g. paleolake deposits at SW Melas), but radiolysis is a severe problem at other locations (e.g. Oxia Planum). The data suggest that the relief of the Valles Marineris mounds is currently being reduced by wind erosion, and that dust production on Mars <3 Gya greatly exceeds the modern reservoir of mobile dust. Mars sedimentary rock erosion rates constrained using crater counts, with applications to organic matter preservation and to the global dust cycle Edwin S. Kite, David P. Mayer
(Submitted on 10 Oct 2016)

Comments: Accepted by Icarus. 8 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1610.02748 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1610.02748v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Edwin Kite Edwin Kite
[v1] Mon, 10 Oct 2016 01:11:24 GMT (3515kb)

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