Deep-seated gravitational slope deformation scaling on Mars and Earth: same fate for different initial conditions and structural evolutions
Some of the most spectacular instances of deep-seated gravitational slope deformation (DSGSD) are found on Mars in the Valles Marineris region. They provide an excellent opportunity to study DSGSD phenomenology using a scaling approach. The topography of selected DSGSD scarps in Valles Marineris and in the Tatra Mountains is investigated after their likely similar postglacial origin is established. The deformed Martian ridges are larger than the deformed terrestrial ridges by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude with, however, a similar height-to-width ratio of ∼0.24. The measured horizontal spreading perpendicular to the ridges is proportionally 1.8 to 2.6 times larger for the Valles Marineris ridges than the Tatra Mountains and vertically 2.9 to 5.1 times larger, suggesting that starting from two different initial conditions, with steeper slopes in Valles Marineris, the final ridge geometry is now similar. Because DSGSD is expected to now be inactive in both regions, their comparison suggests that whatever the initial ridge morphology, DSGSD proceeds until a mature profile is attained. Fault displacements are therefore much larger on Mars. The large offsets imply reactivation of the DSGSD fault scarps in Valles Marineris, whereas single seismic events would be enough to generate DSGSD fault scarps in the Tatra Mountains. The required longer activity of the Martian faults may be correlated with a long succession of climate cycles generated by the unstable Martian obliquity.