A Description of Sub-Equatorial Volcanic Structures Consistent with Sub-Ice Magmatism East of Nepenthes Mensae, Mars.
Abstract:The Martian region located immediately north of the dichotomy scarp, between latitudes 120°E and 135°E, is covered by fretted terrains, characterised by the presence of knobs and mesas formed by eroded and reworked material of highlands provenance, and the smoother terrains between them . Topographic depressions of oblong shape, generally parallel to the scarp, of rough and chaotic appearance, are also observed. The high resolution (~ 6 m/pixel, ) Context Camera (CTX) on board Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) makes it possible to examine the morphologies of these topographic depressions in great detail, unveiling their complex geological histories. Here we expand on our earlier work in the adjacent Nepenthes Mensae region  and present the results of our observations of morphologies of likely igneous origin. We identified a variety of shapes consistent with magmatic structures and constructs: dikes, collapsed lava tubes, and lava flows are observable in the smoother terrains. Most of the elevated structures in the areas are strongly eroded knobs and mesas covered by dust and debris. In some cases however, the morphological characteristics of 2-10 km-size structures are clear and sharp, which allowed us to identify features consistent with sub-ice volcanic constructs, such as tuyas and tindars . Geological reconstructions involving magma-ice interaction are supported by the presence of lobate aprons around knobs and mesas, and of scalloped ejecta surrounding complex impact craters, suggesting the existence of ice both underground and on the surface of these low elevation areas at the time of formation of these constructs.
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