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Claritas rise, Valles Marineris, and Tharsis/Elysium corridor: markers for the early-, middle-, and late-stage development of Tharsis'

Thursday, February 19, 2009
James M.
Dohm (Department of Hydrology & Water Resources, UA)

The middle-stage growth of Tharsis is highlighted by the formation of Valles Marineris. The vast canyon system of Mars has been influenced by Tharsis-driven magmatic activity, especially observed in Melas Chasma (its central part). In and surrounding Melas, long-term magma, tectonic, and water interactions (Late Noachian into the Amazonian), albeit intermittent, point to an elevated life potential, and thus Melas is considered a prime target for future life-detection missions.

The Tharsis-Elysium corridor may indicate that Tharsis has not reached its cooling threshold. The evidence includes stratigraphic, paleotectonic, hydrogeologic, and elemental information. The corridor should be considered a prime target for ongoing and future science-driven exploration to investigate whether Mars is internally and hydrologically active at the present time, and whether the persistence of this activity has resulted in biologic activity.

 

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