Suggested Searches

A black and white image of a portion of Mars' surface from above. Ridges stretch from top right to the bottom, the result of ice moving over possibly thousands of years. The glacier-like forms left behind have a mottled appearance.

Ice Flows on Mars

The surface of Mars is littered with examples of glacier-like landforms. While surface ice deposits are mostly limited to the polar caps, patterns of slow, viscous flow abound in many non-polar regions of Mars. Streamlines that appear as linear ridges in the surface soils and rocky debris are often exposed on top of infilling deposits that coat crater and valley floors. We see such patterns on the surfaces of Earth's icy glaciers and debris-covered "rock glaciers." As ice flows downhill, rock and soil are plucked from the surrounding landscape and ferried along the flowing ice surface and within the icy subsurface. While this process is gradual, taking perhaps thousands of years or longer, it creates a network of linear patterns that reveal the history of ice flow.

Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona

Read More