A Geomorphological Investigation of Paleoshorelines on Mars
Pretlow, Robert W.
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This study examined the geomorphological evidence of paleoshorelines on Mars in order to investigate the hypothesis that Mars may once have possessed an ocean inundating the northern lowlands. The objective was to use high-resolution imagery to re-examine landforms previously identified as paleoshorelines, correlate these observations with features characteristic of dominant geomorphic processes on Earth, and make a determination as to the most probable mechanism responsible for their formation. Imagery and topographic analyses of 14 “Legacy” locations referencing possible coastal features served as the primary basis for testing the Mars shoreline hypothesis. Detailed observations of each location revealed no evidence of landforms consistent with the criteria for determining coastal morphology. The features appeared to be the result of other surface processes, such as volcanism, glaciation, impact events, and mass wasting. Despite the lack of observable evidence, the results of this study do not discount the possibility that a large body of water once covered the northern plains at some point in the Martian past, the remains of which may still be visible to future investigations.