Valley Networks and the Record of Glaciation on Ancient Mars

A. Grau Galofre, K. X. Whipple, P. R. Christensen, S. J. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The lack of evidence for large-scale glacial landscapes on Mars has led to the belief that ancient glaciations had to be frozen to the ground. Here we propose that the fingerprints of Martian wet-based glaciation should be the remnants of the ice sheet drainage system instead of landforms generally associated with terrestrial ice sheets. We use the terrestrial glacial hydrology framework to interrogate how the Martian surface gravity affects glacial hydrology, ice sliding, and glacial erosion. Taking as reference the ancient southern circumpolar ice sheet that deposited the Dorsa Argentea formation, we compare the theoretical behavior of identical ice sheets on Mars and Earth and show that, whereas on Earth glacial drainage is predominantly inefficient, enhancing ice sliding and erosion, on Mars the lower gravity favors the formation of efficient subglacial drainage. The apparent lack of large-scale glacial fingerprints on Mars, such as drumlins or lineations, is to be expected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022GL097974
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 28 2022


  • early Mars
  • glacial erosion
  • glacial geomorphology
  • ice
  • subglacial hydrology
  • valley networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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