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9.3: Activity 9B- Surface Water on Mars

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    Mars has shown evidence of water, and NASA and others have been studying Mars intensely in recent years. Let us look at a few features on Mars.

    Use Google Mars, or download the desktop version of Google Earth.

    If using the desktop version, locate Saturn in the toolbar along the top. Click the Saturn button to bring up several location options and select Mars. In the Layers box on the left, notice Global Maps. You may have to click on it to expand it. For today, we will use the highest quality images found in the Visible Images layer. The other layers are interesting but won’t be used here.

    1. In the Search tab of either platform, type in Noctis Labyrinthus and zoom out enough to see the entire landscape (see Figure 9.15). Notice the linear valleys. Assume that water flowed through these valleys at some time. What type of drainage pattern would this area represent?

    1. Trellis

    1. Dendritic

    1. Rectangular

    1. Radial

    1. Deranged

    1. Think about the drainage pattern you selected in the previous answer. What does this tell you about the underlying rocks?

    1. the rocks are probably fractured

    1. the rocks are uniformly resistant

    1. the rocks are part of a topographic high, like a mountain

    1. the rocks are alternately resistant and non-resistant

    Figure 9.15: Martian drainage system to identify in Activity 9B.
    1. In the Search tab of either platform, type in Warrego Valles and zoom to ~120 miles. In Google Mars, you will have to select the Infrared tab for the best visualization (see Figure 9.16). Current research suggests this drainage pattern formed by the runoff of either precipitation or groundwater. What type of drainage does this appear to be?

    1. Trellis

    1. Dendritic

    1. Rectangular

    1. Radial

    1. Deranged

    Figure 9.16: Aerial view of a Martian drainage system at Warrego Valles for Activity 9B.

    4. Consider the following image (Figure 9.17), a side-by-side of both the Martian and Earth surface. The Martian Rover, Curiosity, is responsible for imaging the surface of Mars below.

    Figure 9.17: The outcrop of rocks on Mars (left) with similar rocks seen on Earth (right) to be used for identification in Activity 9B.
    1. We have not yet sent a crewed mission to Mars; however, Martian Rovers, like Curiosity, help image and collect information for geologists. Despite never setting foot on Mars, geologists are still able to make observations and complete research. To do this we must utilize all that is available to us, including Lyell’s Geologic Principles. Which Principle(s) could a planetary geologist apply to this image?

    What type of rock is present in both images?

    1. Igneous

    1. Metamorphic

    1. Sedimentary

    1. What could this information signify to planetary geologists about the past surface conditions on Mars?


    • Figure 9.15: “Martian Drainage” (Public Domain; NASA)​

    • Figure 9.16: “Warrego Valles” (CC-BY 4.0; Chloe Branciforte via Google Mars)

    • Figure 9.17: “Rock Outcrops on Mars and Earth” (Public Domain; NASA)

    This page titled 9.3: Activity 9B- Surface Water on Mars is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Chloe Branciforte & Emily Haddad (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .