Licus Vallis is a large valley (>350 km long, >2 km wide, and >150 m deep) that heads at the outlet breach of an ~30 km diameter impact crater. We present observations of the geomorphology and topography of this paleolake outlet valley and associated tributary valleys to constrain the history of incision of the Licus Vallis system. Licus Vallis has an abrupt increase in gradient by a factor of approximately 4 along its longitudinal profile, and a knickpoint that drops ~200 m over a reach of ~2 km approximately 12 km downstream from the valley head. We also describe a set of paired terraces within Licus Vallis, which are continuous for tens of kilometers and define an interior valley >2 km in width. We interpret the geomorphology of Licus Vallis as recording at least two discrete, major episodes of valley incision, both driven by lake overflow floods. The main portion of Licus Vallis formed by overflow flooding from a large (~103–104 km2) lake contained in an intercrater basin. Subsequently, overflow flooding from a lake within the ~30 km diameter impact crater reactivated Licus Vallis, forming a major knickpoint at the valley head and establishing the upstream section of the valley at a lower slope. Farther down the valley, this flood event incised an interior valley bounded by paired terraces. Regional tributary valleys that feed Licus Vallis also have prominent knickpoints, which have retreated farthest for downstream valleys. We conclude that these knickpoints record successive waves of incision that swept up Licus Vallis during lake overflow flooding, with erosion in the main trunk of the valley (from overflow floods) significantly outpacing erosion in the tributary valleys (from regional surface runoff). These observations of Licus Vallis illustrate how lake overflow floods may have provided an important control on the pace of landscape evolution on Mars.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ;
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