Inferring the high velocity of landslides in Valles Marineris on Mars from morphological analysis
The flow characteristics and velocities of three landslides in Valles Marineris on Mars are investigated using detailed morphological analyses of high-resolution images and dynamical calculations based on the run-up and curvature of the landslide deposits.
The morphologies of the landslides are described, especially concerning those characteristics that can provide information on the dynamics and velocity.
The long runout and estimated high velocities, often exceeding 100 m/s, confirm a low basal friction experienced by these landslides. Because subaqueous landslides on Earth exhibit reduced friction, we explore the scenario of sub-lacustrine failures, but find little support to this hypothesis.
The environmental conditions that better explain the low friction and the presence of longitudinal furrows suggest an aerial environment with a basal soft and naturally lubricating medium on which friction diminished gradually; in this perspective, ice is the most promising candidate.