Inflated flows on Daedalia Planum (Mars)? Clues from a comparative analysis with the Payen volcanic complex (Argentina)
Inflation is an emplacement process of lava flows, where a thin visco-elastic layer, produced at an early stage, is later inflated by an underlying fluid core. The core remains hot and fluid for extended period of time due to the thermal-shield effect of the surface visco-elastic crust. Plentiful and widespread morphological fingerprints of inflation like tumuli and lava rises are found on the Payen volcanic complex (Argentina), where pahoehoe lava flows extend over the relatively flat surface of the Pampean foreland and reach at least 180 km in length. The morphology of the Argentinean Payen flows were compared with lava flows on Daedalia Planum (Mars), using Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA), Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)/High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). THEMIS images were used to map the main geological units of Daedalia Planum and determine their stratigraphic relationships. MOLA data were used to investigate the topographic surface over which the flows propagated and assess the thickness of lava flows. Finally, MOC and MRO/HIRISE images were used to identify inflations fingerprints and assess the cratering age of the Daedalia Planum' s youngest flow unit which were found to predate the caldera formation on top of the Arsia Mons. The identification of similar inflation features between the Daedalia Planum and the Payen lava fields suggests that moderate and long lasting effusion rates coupled with very efficient spreading processes could have cyclically occurred in the Arsia Mons volcano during its eruptive history. Consequently the effusion rates and rheological proprieties of Daedalia lava flows, which do not take into account the inflation process, can be overestimated. These findings raise some doubts about the effusion rates and lava rheological properties calculated on Martian flows and recommends that these should be used with caution if applied on flows not checked with high-resolution images and potentially affected by inflation. Further HiRISE data acquisition will permit additional analysis of the flow surfaces and will allow more accurate estimates of effusion rates and rheological properties of the lava flows on Mars particularly if this data is acquired under a favourable illumination.