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Mud flow levitation on Mars: Insights from laboratory simulations

Brož, P. and Krýza, O. and Conway, S.J. and Mueller, N.T. and Hauber, E. and Mazzini, A. and Raack, J. and Balme, M. and Sylvest, M.E. and Patel, M.R. (2020) Mud flow levitation on Mars: Insights from laboratory simulations. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 545, p. 116406. Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116406. ISSN 0012-821X.

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Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0012821X20303502


Sediment mobilisation occurring at depth and ultimately manifesting at the surface, is a process which may have operated on Mars. However, the propagation behaviour of this mixture of water and sediments (hereafter simply referred to as mud) over the martian surface, remains uncertain. Although most of the martian surface is below freezing today, locally warmer surface temperatures do occur, and our current knowledge suggests that similar conditions prevailed in the recent past. Here, we present the results of experiments performed inside a low pressure chamber to investigate mud propagation over a warm (∼295 K) unconsolidated sand surface under martian atmospheric pressure conditions (∼7 mbar). Results show that the mud boils while flowing over the warm surface. The gas released during this process can displace the underlying sand particles and hence erode part of the substrate. This “entrenched” flow can act as a platform for further mud propagation over the surface. The escaping gas causes intermittent levitation of the mud resulting in enhanced flow rates. The mud flow morphologies produced by these phenomena differ from those produced when mud flows over a frozen martian surface as well as from their terrestrial counterparts. The intense boiling removes the latent heat both from the mud and the subsurface, meaning that the mud flow would eventually start to freeze and hence changing again the way it propagates. The diverse morphology expressed by our experimental mudflows implies that caution should be exercised when interpreting flow features on the surface of Mars and other celestial bodies.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/136913/
Document Type:Article
Title:Mud flow levitation on Mars: Insights from laboratory simulations
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Brož, P.Institute of Geophysics, The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (ASCR),Prague 4, Czech RepublicUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Krýza, O.Institute of Geophysics ASCR, v.v.i., Prague, Czech RepublicUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Conway, S.J.Dep. of Physical Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United KingdomUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Mueller, N.T.UNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-9229-8921UNSPECIFIED
Mazzini, A.Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics (CEED), University of Oslo, NorwayUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Raack, J.Institut für Planetologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, GermanyUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Balme, M.Open University, Milton Keynes, UKUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Sylvest, M.E.Open University, Milton-Keynes (UK)UNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Patel, M.R.Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute, Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UKUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date:September 2020
Journal or Publication Title:Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:p. 116406
Keywords:Mars, sedimentary volcanism, analogue experiments, low pressure chamber, mud flow, levitation
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Exploration
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EW - Space Exploration
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Project InSight - HP3
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Planetary Physics
Institute of Planetary Research > Planetary Geology
Deposited By: Müller, Nils
Deposited On:27 Oct 2020 08:07
Last Modified:05 Jan 2021 07:33

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