Multiple Levels of Gullies
Multiple Levels of Gullies
PSP_004085_1420  Science Theme: Fluvial Processes
This image shows groups of gullies at different elevations on the same crater wall. Although gullies are common in the mid-latitudes of Mars, they are rarely found to exist at such distinct elevations as seen here.

The mounds on the floor, one of which contains gullies, probably formed during a late stage of crater formation. Both levels of gullies appear to originate at layers. These layers might be ice-rich, or they might be capable of conducting water to the surface.

The gullies visible here are good candidates for formation by subsurface water, as opposed to melting ice or snow originating on the surface. The rounded, theater-shaped alcove and tributary heads are typical of features formed by groundwater sapping on Earth. Surface runoff does not form this morphology.

This image contains possible evidence of subsurface piping, when soil pores connect to form a "pipe" that transports water. When piping occurs, water carries soil with it, leaving empty space beneath the surface. As this process continues, the overlying surface can no longer support itself, and it collapses to form a depression. Several depressions that could have formed this way are visible in this image. The depressions are also directly upslope of more developed alcoves. They also originate at upslope layers, and might be examples of developing alcoves.

Written by: Kelly Kolb  (8 December 2008)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_004019_1420.
Acquisition date
10 June 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
252.4 km (156.9 miles)

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26.9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~81 cm across are resolved

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25 cm/pixel and North is up

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255.0°, Northern Autumn

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.