Modeling volcanic deformation in a regional stress field: Implications for the formation of graben structures on Alba Patera, Mars



[1] Abundant grabens transect the volcano Alba Patera. Their complex geometry and formation mechanisms are still poorly understood. Tectonic processes and magmatic intrusions are responsible for these long surface features. Cross-cutting relationships of the grabens show radial fractures that were formed during early stages and were progressively overprinted by concentric fractures on the mid and upper flanks of the volcano. Two modeling methods are used to understand the formation of the observed structures and to evaluate their implications for hidden subvolcanic processes. Surface deformation and fault arrangements predicted in finite element models are compared to the graben systems observed in Viking images. The orientation and position of the concentric grabens are found to be best reproduced by local crustal subsidence, superimposed on a regional NW-SE oriented extension with decreasing magnitude from south to north. In analogue sandbox models we also simulate surface structures of arrangements that almost perfectly mimic the observed lineaments on Alba Patera. Formation of the grabens spans a period on the order of a billion years, suggesting long-term geodynamic processes to be responsible for the subsidence of the central Alba Patera area. The progressive change toward higher concentricity is likely resultant from an increase in density in the crust by accumulation of intrusive material and cooling, thus causing subsidence of the region above this volcanic root.