This work examines the relative chronology of geologic units within the Cerberus Plains of Mars with an emphasis on lava flows emplaced after the last Marte Valles fluvial episode. High resolution images show the bulk of the Cerberus Plains is covered by platy-ridged and inflated lavas, which are interpreted as insulated sheet flows. Eastern Cerberus Plains lavas originate at Cerberus Fossae fissures and shields. Some flows extend for >2000 km through Marte Valles into Amazonis Planitia. Athabasca Valles are both incised into pristine lavas and embayed by pristine lavas, indicating that Athabascan fluvial events were contemporaneous with volcanic eruptions. Deposits of the Medusae Fossae Formation lie both over and under lavas, suggesting the deposition of the Medusae Fossae Formation was contemporaneous with volcanism. Statistics of small craters indicate lavas in the Western Cerberus Plains may be less than a million years old, but the model isochrons may be unreliable if the small crater population is dominated by secondary craters. Images showing no large craters with diameters >500 m superimposed on Western Cerberus Plains lavas indicate the same surface is younger than 49 Ma.High resolution Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) images have revealed the existence of small cones in the Cerberus Plains, Marte Valles, and Amazonis Planitia. These cones are similar in both morphology and planar dimensions to the larger Icelandic rootless cones, which form due to explosive interactions between surficial lavas and near-surface groundwater. If martian cones form in the same manner as terrestrial rootless cones, then equatorial ground-ice or ground water must have been present near the surface in geologically recent times. Evidence for a shallow lake in the Western Cerberus Plains during the Late Amazonian is also presented. High-resolution images show features interpreted as flood-eroded scarps and fluvial spillways exiting the lake. Based on present-day topography, a lake would have covered an area of 8.4 x 10 4 km 2 , had an average depth of 12 m, and have contained a volume of 1.0 x 10 3 km 3 of water. Lake waters were likely primarily lost to the atmosphere through sublimation, although some quantity of water likely spilled into the Eastern Cerberus Plains or infiltrated into the shallow crust.
- Pub Date:
- Geologic history;
- Cerberus Plains;
- Astronomy, Astrophysics, Geology