Modelling Martian surface channel dynamics
Abstract:Extensive and large surface channel features found at Athabasca and Kasei have previously been attributed to the erosional power of flowing water with palaeoflood discharges being estimated from the surface channel dimensions. However, in order for these channels to be alluvial there are several basic questions to be answered. Are water flows under Martian conditions capable of eroding the amounts of sediment required to leave these channels? Are our present estimates of palaeoflood discharge of correct magnitude to carry out this erosion? And are the channels a product of one or many flood events?
Here, we use a numerical model (CAESAR-Lisflood) that links a two-dimensional hydrodynamic flow scheme to a sediment transport model to simulate fluvial morphodynamics in the Athabasca and Kasei regions. CAESAR-Lisflood has been successfully applied to simulating flooding, erosion and deposition on Earth in a number of locations, and allows the development of channels, bars, braids and other fluvial features to be modelled. The numerical scheme of the model was adapted to Martian conditions by adjusting gravity, drag co-efficient, roughness and grainsize terms. Preliminary findings indicate that fluvial erosion and deposition is capable of creating mega channel features found at these sites and that existing palaeflood estimates are commensurate with channel forming discharges for these features.