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Polygon pattern geomorphometry on Svalbard (Norway) and western Utopia Planitia (Mars) using high-resolution stereo remote-sensing data

Ulrich, Mathias and Hauber, Ernst and Herzschuh, U. and Härtel, S. and Schirrmeister, Lutz (2011) Polygon pattern geomorphometry on Svalbard (Norway) and western Utopia Planitia (Mars) using high-resolution stereo remote-sensing data. Geomorphology, 134, pp. 197-216. Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2011.07.002.

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Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169555X11003394


Polygonal systems formed by thermal contraction cracking are complex landscape features widespread in terrestrial periglacial regions. The manner in which cracking occurs is controlled by various environmental factors and determines dimension, shape, and orientation of polygons. Analogous small-scale features are ubiquitous in Martian mid- and high-latitudes, and they are also inferred to originate from thermal contraction cracking. We studied the geomorphometry of polygonally-patterned ground on Svalbard to draw a terrestrial analogy to small-scale polygonal structures in scalloped terrain in Martian mid-latitudes. We performed a comparative quantitative terrain analysis based on high-resolution stereo remote-sensing data (HRSC-AX and HiRISE) in combination with terrestrial field data and multivariate statistics to determine the relationship of polygon geomorphometry to local environmental conditions. Results show that polygonal structures on Svalbard and in Utopia Planitia on Mars are similar with respect to their size and shape. A comparable thermal contraction cracking genesis is likely. Polygon evolution, however, is strongly related to regional and local landscape dynamics. Individual polygon dimensions and orthogonality vary according to age, thermal contraction cracking activity, and local subsurface conditions. Based on these findings, the effects of specific past and current environmental conditions on polygon formation on Mars must be considered. On both Earth and Mars, the smallest polygons represent young, recently-active low-centered polygons that formed in fine-grained ice-rich material. Small, low-centered Martian polygons show the closest analogy to terrestrial low-centered ice-wedge polygons. The formation of composite wedges could have occurred as a result of local geomorphological conditions during past Martian orbital configurations. Larger polygons reflect past climate conditions on both Earth and Mars. The present degradation of these polygons depends on relief and topographical situation. On Svalbard the thawing of ice wedges degrades high-centered polygons; in contrast, the present appearance of polygons in Utopia Planitia is primarily the result of contemporary dry degradation processes.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/72040/
Document Type:Article
Title:Polygon pattern geomorphometry on Svalbard (Norway) and western Utopia Planitia (Mars) using high-resolution stereo remote-sensing data
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Ulrich, MathiasAWI PotsdamUNSPECIFIED
Hauber, Ernsternst.hauber (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Herzschuh, U.AWI PotsdamUNSPECIFIED
Härtel, S.Univ. LeipzigUNSPECIFIED
Schirrmeister, LutzAWI PotsdamUNSPECIFIED
Journal or Publication Title:Geomorphology
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
DOI :10.1016/j.geomorph.2011.07.002
Page Range:pp. 197-216
Keywords:Mars, Svalbard, geomorphology, permafrost, HRSC-AX, polygons, water, ice, terrestrial analogue
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport (old)
HGF - Program:Space (old)
HGF - Program Themes:W EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research area:Space
DLR - Program:W EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research theme (Project):W - Projekt MARS-EXPRESS / HRSC (old)
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Planetary Geology
Deposited By: Hauber, Ernst
Deposited On:13 Dec 2011 15:47
Last Modified:10 Jan 2019 15:47

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