Steamlined Landforms in Western Charitum Montes

This observation shows part of a semi-circular embayment in the side wall of a valley. The valley is located in the Southern hemisphere of Mars near the rim of the Argyre impact basin in the western Charitum Montes. The bottom of the image is near the top of the valley side wall and the top of the image shows the edge of the valley floor.

Several streamlined landforms are visible on the wall of the valley. They have irregular shapes but are generally streamlined and are oriented in the direction of maximum slope. The streamlined hills vary in dimensions with widths up to hundreds of meters and lengths of more than a kilometer.

Near the top of the valley wall (near the bottom of the image) are several long and linear grooves. The grooves are locally parallel and are also oriented in the approximate downhill direction.

These features may have formed from what are called mass wasting processes, fluvial erosion, or possibly erosion from strong winds. However, landforms in the surrounding area strongly suggest that this region was sculpted by glacial processes. The grooves may have formed by glacial erosion where rocks at the bottom of the ice grind against and scour the underlying bedrock.The orientation of the streamlined hills is also consistent with glacially sculpted bedrock or subglacial till deposits.

Future high resolution stereo imaging should reveal more diagnostic details, such as shape, symmetry, and relief, in the streamlined features.

Written by: Maria Banks   (25 August 2007)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_005333_1275 .

More info and image formats at

Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona