Layering in Upper Walls of Valles Marineris

This observation shows parts of the upper walls of Valles Marineris with layered rocks. These layers extend down to a smooth-appearing slope, that is likely material shed from the upper parts of the chasm walls; down-slope stripes are visible, indicating that material has fallen or slid downhill in a process termed “mass wasting.”

The layers, exposed in most rock outcrops in this image, are most likely lava flows from flood lavas that once erupted across the region. These layers are located in the upper walls of most of Valles Marineris and are sometimes exposed at depths well below the surrounding plateau, recording extensive volcanism in the history of the region. Similar, thick successions of lava flows are found at some sites on Earth (for example, the Columbia River flood basalts in the northwest U.S.).
Written by: Colin Dundas   (15 December 2007)

More info and image formats at

Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona