22-EPN3-105: At the interface of ice and water on Mars
January 23, 2024

22-EPN3-105: At the interface of ice and water on Mars – Insights from Western Greenland.

Visit by Anna Grau Galofre (CNRS/Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géosciences, France) and Axel Nobletto (Western University, Canada) to TA1.4 AU Greenland Kangerlussuaq Field Site (Greenland).
Dates of visit: 25 July – 02 August 2023

Report Summary: The aim of this project was to investigate elements of the glacial and periglacial system surrounding Kangerlussaq, Western Greenland, to then compare them to similar landforms on the surface of Mars.

The first target in the field focused on investigating former subglacial drainage pathways that would have transported and accumulated water under the western Greenland ice sheet (GIS). Preliminary field observations, consisting of field and UAV imagery, mapping of former ice flow directions and sediment analyses, identified sets of bedrock incised depressions, linked by shallow channels that often cross drainage divides, point at a former subglacial drainage setting consisting of interlinked subglacial cavities. These observations would be consistent with present day radar observations of drainage
pathways under the western GIS margin near Kangerlussuaq. Beside their interest for understanding the geometry of current subglacial drainage under Greenland, interlinked subglacial cavities are also interesting analogues to the martian so-called fresh shallow valleys, which are suggested to have formed under former ice cover.

The second field objective investigated polygonal terrain, its morphology, distribution, and the connection with the depth to the ice layer. We studied polygonised terrains around Kangerlussuaq, collecting image data, structure-from-motion, and depth to the ice layer. We also mapped the distribution of polygonal terrain as observed in the field and aerial imagery.

The results and interpretations will be applied to the study of Martian polygons, to propose a model of the buried ice conditions for Mars’ permafrost, and the development of channel systems.

Read full scientific report with kind permission by Anna Grau Galofre.

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