Generation of recent massive water floods at Cerberus Fossae, Mars by dike emplacement, cryospheric cracking, and confined aquifer groundwater release
Article first published online: 10 JUN 2003
Copyright 2003 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 30, Issue 11, June 2003
How to Cite
2003), Generation of recent massive water floods at Cerberus Fossae, Mars by dike emplacement, cryospheric cracking, and confined aquifer groundwater release, Geophys. Res. Lett., 30, 1577, doi:10.1029/2003GL017135, 11., , and (
- Issue published online: 10 JUN 2003
- Article first published online: 10 JUN 2003
- Manuscript Accepted: 14 APR 2003
- Manuscript Revised: 1 APR 2003
- Manuscript Received: 14 FEB 2003
 Previous studies noted the close association of geologically very recent lava flows and fluvial channels emanating from Cerberus Fossae. To assess these relationships, we outline a model of magmatic dike emplacement that involves 1) surface fractures and localized volcanic eruptions, 2) attendant cryospheric cracking to fracture the surface and release pressurized groundwater confined beneath the cryosphere, 3) effusion of water along a segment of the fracture to form Athabasca Valles, and 4) heating of the regions adjacent to the dike to cause melting and subsequent subsidence of the surface, forming late-stage pits and depressions. Previous estimates of the aqueous discharge were ∼1–2 × 106 m3 s −1. Our models show that this flux could be readily accommodated by flow through adjacent dike-related cryospheric fractures at water rise speeds of ∼60 m/s. The required aquifer permeability, however, is far larger than commonly encountered over similar depths and scales on Earth. This suggests that water may be transported in the subsurface by mechanism more efficient than porous flow, and/or that the previously proposed volume flux values are overestimates.