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Channels in a Fossilized Delta
Channels in a fossilized delta

This HiRISE image covers a portion of a delta that partially fills Eberswalde crater in Margaritifer Sinus. The delta was first recognized and mapped using MOC images that revealed various features whose presence required sustained flow and deposition into a lake that once occupied the crater. The HiRISE image resolves meter-scale features that record the migration of channels and delta distributaries as the delta grew over time. Differences in grain-size of sediments within the environments on the delta enable differential erosion of the deposits. As a result, coarser channel deposits are slightly more resistant and stand in relief relative to finer-grained over-bank and more easily eroded distal delta deposits. Close examination of the relict channel deposits confirms the presence of some meter-size blocks that were likely too coarse to have been transported by water flowing within the channels. These blocks may be formed of the sand and gravel that more likely moved along the channels that was lithified and eroded. Numerous meter-scale polygonal structures are common on many surfaces, but mostly those associated with more quiescent depositional environments removed from the channels. The polygons could be the result of deposition of fine-grained sediments that were either exposed and desiccated (dried out), rich in clays that shrunk when the water was removed, turned into rock and then fractured and eroded, or some combination of these processes.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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