HiRISE observations of gas sublimation-driven activity in Mars’ southern polar regions: II. Surficial deposits and their origins
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been used to monitor the seasonal evolution of several regions at high southern latitudes and, in particular, the jet-like activity which may result from the process described by Kieffer (JGR, 112, E08005, doi:10.1029/2006JE002816, 2007) involving translucent CO 2 ice. In this work, we mostly concentrate on observations of the Inca City (81°S, 296°E) and Manhattan (86°S, 99°E) regions in the southern spring of 2007. Two companion papers, [Hansen et al. this issue] and [Portyankina et al. this issue], discuss the surface features in these regions and specific models of the behaviour of CO 2 slab ice, respectively. The observations indicate rapid on-set of activity in late winter initiating before HiRISE can obtain adequately illuminated images (Ls < 174° at Inca City). Most sources become active within the subsequent 8 weeks. Activity is indicated by the production of dark deposits surrounded by brighter bluer deposits which probably arise from the freezing out of vented CO 2 [ Titus et al., 2007. AGU (abstract P41A-0188)]. These deposits originate from araneiform structures (spiders), boulders on ridges, cracks on slopes, and along linear cracks in the slab ice on flatter surfaces. The type of activity observed can often be explained qualitatively by considering the local topography. Some dark fans are observed to shorten enormously in length on a timescale of 18 days. We consider this to be strong evidence that outgassing was in progress at the time of HiRISE image acquisition and estimate a total particulate emission rate of >30 g s -1 from a single typical jet feature. Brighter deposits at Inca City become increasingly hard to detect after Ls = 210°. In the Inca City region, the orientations of surficial deposits are topographically controlled. The deposition of dark material also appears to be influenced by local topography suggesting that the ejection from the vents is at low velocity (<10 m s -1) and that a ground-hugging flow process (a sort of "cryo-fumarole") may be occurring. The failure up to this point to obtain a clear detection of outgassing though stereo imaging is consistent with low level transport. The downslope orientation of the deposits may result from the geometry of the vent or from catabatic winds. At many sites, more than one ejection event appears to have occurred suggesting re-charging of the sources. Around Ls = 230°, the brightness of the surface begins to drop rapidly on north-facing slopes and the contrast between the dark deposits and the surrounding surface reduces. This indicates that the CO 2 ice slab is being lost completely in some areas at around this time. By Ls = 280°, at Inca City, the ice slab has effectively gone. CRISM band ratios and THEMIS brightness temperature measurements are consistent with this interpretation.