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Mars: The initial emplacement of ground ice in response to the thermal evolution of its early crustGiven the geomorphic evidence for the widespread occurrence of water and ice in the early martian crust, and the difficulty involved in accounting for this distribution given the present climate, it has been suggested that the planet's early climate was originally more Earth-like, permitting the global emplacement of crustal H2O by direct precipitation as snow or rain. The resemblance of the martian valley networks to terrestrial runoff channels, and their almost exclusive occurrence in the planet's ancient (approximately 4 billion year old) heavily cratered terrain, is often cited as evidence of just such a period. An alternative school of thought suggests that the early climate did not differ substantially from that of today. Advocates of this view find no compelling reason to invoke a warmer, wetter period to explain the origin of the valley networks. Rather, they cite evidence that the primary mechanism of valley formation was ground water sapping, a process that does not require that surface water exist in equilibrium with the atmosphere. However, while sapping may successfully explain the origin of the small valleys, it fails to address how the crust was initially charged with ice as the climate evolved towards its present state. Therefore, given the uncertainty regarding the environmental conditions that prevailed on early Mars, the initial emplacement of ground ice is considered from two perspectives: (1) that the early climate started warm and wet, but gradually cooled with time; and (2) that it never differed substantially from that of today.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Clifford, Stephen M.
(Lunar and Planetary Inst. Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: Twenty-fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 1: A-F
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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