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Small Scale Polygons and the History of Ground Ice on MarsRecent progress on polygon modeling has focused on the diameter and surface relief that we expect of thermal-contraction polygons in martian permafrost. With this in mind, we developed a finite-element model of thermal-contraction-crack behavior in permafrost in a martian climate. This model was generated from a finite element code by Jay Melosh (called TECTON) originally developed for terrestrial and planetary crustal-deformation studies. We adapted this model to martian permafrost by including time (and temperature) dependent rheologies, boundary conditions, and isotropic thermal-contraction, as well as several small adaptations to a martian environment. We tested our model extensively, including comparison to an analytic solution of pre-fracture stress. We recently published an analysis of two potential sources of water for forming the recent gullies. In this work we first evaluated the potential for near-surface ground ice (in the top meter or so of soil) to melt under conditions of solar heating on sloped surfaces at high obliquity, utilizing both thermal and diffusion-based ground-ice-stability models; our results suggested that the ground ice will sublimate, and the ice table will recede to greater depths before the melting temperature can be reached. An exception can occur only for extremely salt-rich ice, depressing the freezing point.
Document ID
Document Type
Mellon, Michael T. (Colorado Univ. Boulder, CO, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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