Greater contrast in Martian hydrological history from more accurate estimates of paleodischarge

R. E. Jacobsen, D. M. Burr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Correlative width-discharge relationships from the Missouri River Basin are commonly used to estimate fluvial paleodischarge on Mars. However, hydraulic geometry provides alternative, and causal, width-discharge relationships derived from broader samples of channels, including those in reduced-gravity (submarine) environments. Comparison of these relationships implies that causal relationships from hydraulic geometry should yield more accurate and more precise discharge estimates. Our remote analysis of a Martian-terrestrial analog channel, combined with in situ discharge data, substantiates this implication. Applied to Martian features, these results imply that paleodischarges of interior channels of Noachian-Hesperian (~3.7 Ga) valley networks have been underestimated by a factor of several, whereas paleodischarges for smaller fluvial deposits of the Late Hesperian-Early Amazonian (~3.0 Ga) have been overestimated. Thus, these new paleodischarges significantly magnify the contrast between early and late Martian hydrologic activity. Width-discharge relationships from hydraulic geometry represent validated tools for quantifying fluvial input near candidate landing sites of upcoming missions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8903-8911
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 16 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Mars
  • discharge
  • fluvial
  • geomorphology
  • hydraulic geometry
  • terrestrial analog

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Greater contrast in Martian hydrological history from more accurate estimates of paleodischarge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this