Astronomy:Linear ridge networks

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Linear ridge networks are found in various places on Mars in and around craters.[1] These features have also been called "polygonal ridge networks," "boxwork ridges", and "reticulate ridges."[2] Ridges often appear as mostly straight segments that intersect in a lattice-like manner. They are hundreds of meters long, tens of meters high, and several meters wide. It is thought that impacts created fractures in the surface, these fractures later acted as channels for fluids. Fluids cemented the structures. With the passage of time, surrounding material was eroded away, thereby leaving hard ridges behind. It is reasonable to think that on Mars impacts broke the ground with cracks since faults are often formed in impact craters on Earth. One could guess that these ridge networks were dikes, but dikes would go more or less in the same direction, as compared to these ridges that have a large variety of orientations. Since the ridges occur in locations with clay, these formations could serve as a marker for clay which requires water for its formation.[3][4] [5] Water here could have supported past life in these locations. Clay may also preserve fossils or other traces of past life.

These ridges could be formed by large impacts that produced fractures, faults, or dikes made up of melted rock and/or crushed rock (breccia).[6] One formation mechanism proposed by Quinn and Ehlmann in 2017 was that sediment was deposited and eventually the sediment underwent diagenesis which caused a loss of volume and fractures. After erosion exposed the fractures, they were filled with minerals possibly by acid-sulfate fluids. More erosion removed softer materials and left the more resistant ridges behind.[7] If the impact-caused dike is made of purely melted rock from the heat of the impact, it is called a pseudotachylite .[8] Also, hydrothermalism may have been involved due to the heat generated during impacts.[9] Strong evidence for hydrothermalism was reported by a team of researchers studying Auki Crater. This crater contains ridges that may have been produced after fractures formed with an impact. Using instruments on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter they found the minerals smectite, silica, zeolite, serpentine, carbonate, and chlorite that are common in impact-induced hydrothermal systems on Earth.[10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] Other evidence of post-impact hydrothermal systems on Mars from other scientists who studied other Martian craters.[16] [17] [18][19]

Because ridges seem to be found in older crust only, it is believed that they occurred early in the history of Mars when there were more and larger asteroids striking the planet.[20] These early impacts may have caused the early crust to be full of interconnected channels.[21] [22] These networks have been found many regions of Mars including in Arabia Terra (Arabia quadrangle), northern Meridiani Planum, Solis Planum, Noachis Terra (Noachis quadrangle), Atlantis Chaos, and Nepenthes Mensa (Mare Tyrrhenum quadrangle).[23]

A somewhat different ridge formation has been discovered in the Eastern Medusae Fossae Formation; these dark ridges can be 50 meters in height and erode into dark boulders. It has been suggested that there are from lava filling fractures in the Medusae Fossae Formation which is surrounded by lava flows.[24]

Linear ridge networks in Mare Tyrrhenum quadrangle

Some of these may be from hydrothermal systems produced after an impact.

Linear ridge networks in Casius quadrangle

Linear ridge networks in Syrtis Major quadrangle

Linear ridge networks in Phaethontis quadrangle

Linear ridge networks in Amazonis quadrangle

Linear ridge networks in Arabia quadrangle

Linear ridge networks in Arcadia quadrangle

See also


  1. Head, J., J. Mustard. 2006. Breccia dikes and crater-related faults in impact craters on Mars: Erosion and exposure on the floor of a crater 75 km in diameter at the dichotomy boundary, Meteorit. Planet Science: 41, 1675-1690.
  2. Moore, J., D. Wilhelms. 2001. Hellas as a possible site of ancient ice-covered lakes on Mars. Icarus: 154, 258-276.
  3. Mangold et al. 2007. Mineralogy of the Nili Fossae region with OMEGA/Mars Express data: 2. Aqueous alteration of the crust. J. Geophys. Res., 112, doi:10.1029/2006JE002835.
  4. Mustard et al., 2007. Mineralogy of the Nili Fossae region with OMEGA/Mars Express data: 1. Ancient impact melt in the Isidis Basin and implications for the transition from the Noachian to Hesperian, J. Geophys. Res., 112.
  5. Mustard et al., 2009. Composition, Morphology, and Stratigraphy of Noachian Crust around the Isidis Basin, J. Geophys. Res., 114, doi:10.1029/2009JE003349.
  7. Quinn, D., B. Ehlmann. 2017. THE DEPOSITION AND ALTERATION HISTORY OF THE NORTHEAST SYRTIS LAYERED SULFATES. Lunar and Planetary Science XLVIII (2017). 2932.pdf.
  9. Osinski, G., et al. 2013. Impact-generated hydrothermal systems on Earth and Mars. Icarus: 224, 347-363.
  10. Carrozzo, F. et al. 2017. Geology and mineralogy of the Auki Crater, Tyrrhena Terra, Mars: A possible post impact-induced hydrothermal system. 281: 228-239
  11. Loizeau, D. et al. 2012. Characterization of hydrated silicate-bearing outcrops in tyrrhena Terra, Mars: implications to the alteration history of Mars. Icarus: 219, 476-497.
  12. Naumov, M. 2005. Principal features of impact-generated hydrothermal circulation systems: mineralogical and geochemical evidence. Geofluids: 5, 165-184.
  13. Ehlmann, B., et al. 2011. Evidence for low-grade metamorphism, hydrothermal alteration, and diagenesis on Mars from phyllosilicate mineral assemblages. Clays Clay Miner: 59, 359-377.
  14. Osinski, G. et al. 2013. Impact-generated hydrothermal systems on Earth and Mars. Icarus: 224, 347-363.
  15. Schwenzer, S., D. Kring. 2013. Alteration minerals in impact-generated hydrothermal systems – Exploring host rock variability. Icarus: 226, 487-496.
  16. Marzo, G., et al. 2010. Evidence for hesperian impact-induced hydrothermalism on Mars. Icarus: 667-683.
  17. Mangold, N., et al. 2012. Hydrothermal alteration in a late hesperian impact crater on Mars. 43th Lunar and Planetary Science. #1209.
  18. Tornabene, L., et al. 2009. Parautochthonous megabreccias and possible evidence of impact-induced hydrothermal alteration in holden crater, Mars. 40th LPSC. #1766.
  19. Pascuzzo, A., et al. 2018. THE ORIGIN OF ENIGMATIC RIDGE NETWORKS, NILI FOSSAE, MARS: IMPLICATIONS FOR EXTENSIVE SUBSURFACE FLUID FLOW IN THE NOACHIAN. 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2018 (LPI Contrib. No. 2083). 2268.pdf
  20. Kerber, L., et al. 2017. Polygonal ridge networks on Mars: Diversity of morphologies and the special case of the Eastern Medusae Fossae Formation. Icarus: 281, 200-219.
  21. Ehlmann, G. et al. 2011. Subsurface water and clay mineral formation during the early history of Mars. Nature: 479, 53-61.
  22. E. K. Ebinger E., J. Mustard. 2015. LINEAR RIDGES IN THE NILOSYRTIS REGION OF MARS: IMPLICATIONS FOR SUBSURFACE FLUID FLOW. 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2015) 2034.pdf
  23. Saper, L., J. Mustard. 2013. Extensive linear ridge networks in Nili Fossae and Nilosyrtis, Mars: implications for fluid flow in the ancient crust. Geophysical Research letters: 40, 245-249.
  24. Kerber, L., et al. 2017. Polygonal ridge networks on Mars: Diversity of morphologies and the special case of the Eastern Medusae Fossae Formation. Icarus: 281, 200-219.

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