When the Hale impact crater penetrated the martian cryosphere 1Ga, landforms indicating post-impact volatile mobilisation were generated. We have found landforms in the ejecta blanket of Hale Crater similar to ‘permafrost molards’ found in periglacial environments on Earth, and probably related to the past or present presence of volatiles at/near the surface. Permafrost molards are conical mounds of debris associated with landslide deposits, resulting from the degradation of blocks of ice-rich material mobilised by a landslide in periglacial terrains. Here we analyse the spatial and topographic distribution of conical mounds around the Hale crater at regional and local scales, and compare them to those of molards on the deposits of the Mount Meager debris avalanche in Canada. Hale Crater's conical mounds are located at the distal boundary of the thickest ejecta blanket, which is the closest to the main crater. We observe a similar spatial arrangement of molards along the distal parts of the terminal lobe of the Mount Meager debris avalanche. We then compare the morphology and morphometrics of the conical mounds on Hale Crater to those of terrestrial molards on the Paatuut and Niiortuut rock avalanches in western Greenland. We find that morphology and setting of conical mounds within Hale Crater ejecta are consistent with the formation pathway of molards on Earth. We infer that they originated from blocks of ice-cemented regolith that were produced by the Hale-crater-forming impact, transported by the ejecta flows, and finally degraded to cones of debris (molards) on loss of the interstitial ice. The similarities in distribution between the ejecta flows of Hale and Mount Meager debris avalanche on Earth suggest that the mounds resulted from the rheological separation of the ejecta flows, with a relatively fluid-poor phase that allowed the volatile-rich blocks to survive transport. This supports the prevailing hypothesis that the Hale impact event penetrated the martian cryosphere, providing important constraints on the rheology of martian ejecta deposits.
|Number of pages||13|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2023|
- Ejecta flows
- Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate