Astronomy:Brain terrain

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Short description
Feature of the Martian surface

Brain terrain, also called knobs-brain coral and brain coral terrain, is a feature of the Martian surface, consisting of complex ridges found on lobate debris aprons, lineated valley fill and concentric crater fill. It is so named because it suggests the ridges on the surface of the human brain. Wide ridges are called closed-cell brain terrain, and the less common narrow ridges are called open-cell brain terrain.[1] It is thought that the wide closed-cell terrain contains a core of ice, and when the ice disappears the center of the wide ridge collapses to produce the narrow ridges of the open-cell brain terrain. Shadow measurements from HiRISE indicate the ridges are 4-5 meters high.[1] Brain terrain has been observed to form from what has been called an "Upper Plains Unit." The process begins with the formation of stress cracks. The upper plains unit fell from the sky as snow and as ice coated dust.[2]

Today it is widely accepted that glacier-like forms, lobate debris aprons, lineated valley fill, and concentric fill are all related in that they have the same surface texture. Glacier-like forms in valleys and cirque-like alcoves may coalesce with others to produce lobate debris aprons. When opposing lobate debris aprons converge, linear valley fill results.[3] They probably all contain ice-rich material.

Many of these features are found in the Northern hemisphere in parts of a boundary called the Martian dichotomy, mostly between 0 and 70 E longitudes.[4] Near this area are regions that are named from ancient places: Deuteronilus Mensae, Protonilus Mensae, and Nilosyrtis Mensae.

Lobate debris aprons, lineated valley fill, and concentric fill probably have dirt and rock debris covering huge deposits of ice.[5][6][7][8]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Levy, J., J. Head, D. Marchant. 2009. Concentric crater fill in Utopia Planitia: History and interaction between glacial “brain terrain” and periglacial mantle processes. Icarus 202, 462–476.
  2. Baker, D., J. Head. 2015. Extensive Middle Amazonian mantling of debris aprons and plains in Deuteronilus Mensae, Mars: Implication for the record of mid-latitude glaciation. Icarus: 260, 269-288.
  3. Souness, C. and B. Hubbard. 2013. An alternative interpretation of late Amazonian ice flow: Protonilus Mensae, Mars. Icarus 225, 495-505.
  4. Barlow, N. 2008. Mars: An Introduction to its Interior, Surface and Atmosphere. Cambridge University Press. ISBN:978-0-521-85226-5
  5. Head, J. and D. Marchant. 2006. Evidence for global-scale northern mid-latitude glaciation in the Amazonian period of Mars: Debris-covered glacial and valley glacial deposits in the 30 - 50 N latitude band. Lunar. Planet. Sci. 37. Abstract 1127
  6. Head, J. and D. Marchant. 2006. Modifications of the walls of a Noachian crater in Northern Arabia Terra (24 E, 39 N) during northern mid-latitude Amazonian glacial epochs on Mars: Nature and evolution of Lobate Debris Aprons and their relationships to lineated valley fill and glacial systems. Lunar. Planet. Sci. 37. Abstract 1128
  7. Head, J., et al. 2006. Extensive valley glacier deposits in the northern mid-latitudes of Mars: Evidence for the late Amazonian obliquity-driven climate change. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 241. 663-671
  8. Head, J., et al. 2006. Modification if the dichotomy boundary on Mars by Amazonian mid-latitude regional glaciation. Geophys. Res Lett. 33