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Sustained fluvial deposition recorded in Mars’ Noachian stratigraphic record

Salese, Francesco; McMahon, William J.; Balme, Matthew R.; Ansan, Veronique; Davis, Joel M.; Kleinhans, Maarten G.


Francesco Salese

William J. McMahon

Matthew R. Balme

Veronique Ansan

Joel M. Davis

Maarten G. Kleinhans


Orbital observation has revealed a rich record of fluvial landforms on Mars, with much of this record dating 3.6–3.0 Ga. Despite widespread geomorphic evidence, few analyses of Mars’ alluvial sedimentary-stratigraphic record exist, with detailed studies of alluvium largely limited to smaller sand-bodies amenable to study in-situ by rovers. These typically metre-scale outcrop dimensions have prevented interpretation of larger scale channel-morphology and long-term basin evolution, vital for understanding the past Martian climate. Here we give an interpretation of a large sedimentary succession at Izola mensa within the NW Hellas Basin rim. The succession comprises channel and barform packages which together demonstrate that river deposition was already well established >3.7 Ga. The deposits mirror terrestrial analogues subject to low-peak discharge variation, implying that river deposition at Izola was subject to sustained, potentially perennial, fluvial flow. Such conditions would require an environment capable of maintaining large volumes of water for extensive time-periods, necessitating a precipitation-driven hydrological cycle.


Salese, F., McMahon, W. J., Balme, M. R., Ansan, V., Davis, J. M., & Kleinhans, M. G. (2020). Sustained fluvial deposition recorded in Mars’ Noachian stratigraphic record. Nature communications, 11(1), Article 2067.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 16, 2020
Online Publication Date May 5, 2020
Publication Date 2020-12
Deposit Date Jan 27, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Nature Communications
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 1
Article Number 2067
Keywords Geomorphology; Inner planets
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 18 January 2020; Accepted: 16 March 2020; First Online: 5 May 2020; : The authors declare no competing interests.


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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2020. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit licenses/by/4.0/.

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