A new geological map of mars has revealed new insight into surface modified by water over much of planet's history.
The map has been produced by Scott C. Mest and David A. Crown of the Planetary Science Institute, which established that the water in this area would be in the canyon systems of Waikato Vallis in the north part of the map and Reull Vallis in the central part of the map and these canyons were believed to have formed when underground water was released from plains materials to the surface, causing the ground to collapse.
The water could have been stored within the plains in localized aquifers or as ice, which could have melted due to the heat from nearby volcanoes.
Mest said that they used images and topographic data from spacecraft to map the locations of these features, evaluate their relationships to each other, and estimated their ages from superposed impact craters, which could provide better understanding of the geologic processes that modified the surface.
The research also found that the plains and highland terrains also contained many small channels that were carved by water flowing over the surface, likely around the same time that the canyons were forming.
Most highland peaks and the walls of many impact craters showed evidence that ice-rich sediments flowed downhill, forming features that resemble rock glaciers on Earth; these features represented the most recent water-related activity in the area, and might be active even today.