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Formation of an eroded lava channel within an Elysium Planitia impact crater: distinguishing between a mechanical and thermal origin

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date12/2010
JournalIcarus
Journal number2
Volume210
Number of pages9
Pages626-634
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

A lava channel identified on the wall of an Elysium Planitia impact crater is investigated to identify the dominant erosion mechanism, mechanical vs. thermal, acting during channel formation. Observations of channel morphology are used to supplement analytical models of lava channel formation in order to calculate the duration of channel formation, the velocity of the lava flowing through the channel, and the erosion rate in each erosion regime considered. Results demonstrate that the channel observed in the Elysium Planitia impact crater formed primarily due to mechanical erosion. In a more general sense, results of this study suggest that lava channels can form primarily due to thermal erosion in the presence of more gradual slopes and more consolidated substrates whereas lava channels can form primarily due to mechanical erosion in the presence of more energetic flows on steeper slopes and more poorly consolidated substrates. Therefore, both erosion regimes must be considered when analyzing origins of eroded lava channels that cut through strata of different strengths.