Northern Arabia Etched Terrain

Scaled Image

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU

About this image

Many places on Mars display scabby, eroded landscapes that commonly are referred to as etched terrain. These places have a ragged, tortured look that reveals a geologic history of intense deposition and erosion. This THEMIS image shows such a place. Here a 10 km diameter crater is superposed on the floor of a 40 km diameter crater, most of which is outside of the image but apparent in the MOLA context image. The rugged crater rim material intermingles with low, flat-topped mesas and layers with irregular outlines along with dune-like ridges on many of the flat surfaces. The horizontal layers that occur throughout the scene at different elevations are evidence of repeated episodes of deposition. The apparent ease with which these deposits have been eroded, most likely by wind, suggests that they are composed of poorly consolidated material. Air-fall sediments are the likely candidate for this material rather than lava flows. The dune-like ridges are probably inactive granule ripples produced from the interaction of wind and erosional debris. The large interior crater displays features that are the result of deposition and subsequent erosion. Its raised rim is barely discernable due to burial while piles and blocks of slumped material along the interior circumference attest to the action of erosion. Some of the blocks retain the same texture as the surrounding undisrupted surface. It appears as if the crater had been buried long enough for the overlying material to be eroded into the texture seen today. Then at some point this overburden foundered and collapsed into the crater. Continuing erosion has caused the upper layer to retreat back from what was probably the original rim of the crater, producing the noncircular appearance seen today. The length of time represented by this sequence of events as well as the conditions necessary to produce them are unknown.

Please see the THEMIS Data Citation Note for details on crediting THEMIS images. 


Image ID: 
V01471006 (View data in Mars Image Explorer)
2002-04-14 10:10
Thu, 2002-05-23
1024 pixels (18 km)
3648 pixels (66 km)
0.018298 km/pixel
0.018431 km/pixel


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