Senior Theses 2005
Ashley Rose Gould (2005). Martian Paleoclimate and age
analysis of Mars global surveyor results
Faculty advisor: Laura Wetzel
The mineralogy, topography and crustal thickness for four sites on the Martian surface, Terra Meridiani, Terra Cimmeria, Syrtis Major and Acidalia Planitia, were studied by using results of the Mars Global Surveyor. While-previous studies of the Martian surface focus on singular regions or features, this study hypothesized that Terra Meridiani is a remnant of the original climate present during the Noachian Era through comparison to Terra Cimmeria, Syrtis Major and Acidalia Planitia. Within the means of this study it has been concluded that the topographical evidence present at Terra Meridiani demonstrates that the exposed region is not consistent with Noachian Age terrain due to the lack of superficial impacts. However the region does indicate that liquid water was at or near the surface for a prolonged amount of 'time, most likely during the early Hesperian Age. Akin to Terra Meridiani, Acidalia Planitia has a buried basement that has enough quasi-circular depressions to indicate that the basement level was of an earlier portion of the Noachian Age than Terra Cimmeria has indicated. Therefore it is plausible that the basaltic basement layers of Terra Meridiani and Acidalia Planitia were originally exposed to the surface during the time of the first primordial atmosphere.
Also the highly degraded profiles of the old large impact basins, the origin of valleys near sharp drainage divides, the diverse states of crater degradation and the uniform age of fluvial erosion at Terra Cimmeria support the paleoclimatic theory that the extremely dense, carbon dioxide rich atmosphere of the mid to late Noachian Age of Mars provided a wet and warm surface. No other apparent mechanism can be responsible for these effects without the aid of precipitation in Noachian erosion processes.