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A wet-geology and cold-climate Mars model: Punctuation of a slow dynamic approach to equilibriumIt was suggested that Mars may have possessed a relatively warm humid climate and a vigorous hydrological cycle involving meteoric precipitation, oceans, and continental ice sheets. Baker hypothesized that these geologically active conditions may have been repeated several times; each of these dynamic epochs was followed by a collapse of the climate and hydrologic cycle of Mars into essentially current conditions, completing what is termed a 'Baker cycle'. The purpose is to present an endmember possibility that Martian glacial landscapes, including some that were previously considered to have formed under warm climatic conditions, might be explained by processes compatible with an extremely cold surface. Two aspects of hypothesized Martian glacial terrains were cited as favoring a warm climate during Baker cycles: (1) the formation of some landscapes, including possible eskers, tunnel channels, drumlins, and outwash plains, appears to have required liquid water, and (2) a liquid-surfaced ocean was probably necessary to feed the glaciers. The requirement for liquid water, if these features were correctly interpreted, is difficult to avoid; it is entirely possible that a comparatively warm climate was involved, but it is not clear that formation of landforms by wet-based glaciers actually requires a warm climate. Even less certain is the supposed requirement for liquid oceans. Formation of glaciers only requires a source of water or ice to supply an amount of precipitation that exceeds losses due to melting and sublimation. At Martian temperatures precipitation is very low, but so are melting and sublimation, so a large body of ice that is unstable with respect to sublimation may take the role of Earth's oceans in feeding the glaciers. Recent models suggest that even current Martian polar caps, long thought to be static bodies of ice and dust, might actually be slow-moving, cryogenic continental glaciers. Is it possible that subglacial processes beneath cryogenic (but wetbased) ice sheets formed the hypothesized Martian glacial landscapes?
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Kargel, J. S. (Geological Survey Flagstaff, AZ, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Workshop on the Martian Northern Plains: Sedimentological, Periglacial, and Paleoclimatic Evolution
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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