Possible ancient giant basin and related water enrichment in the Arabia Terra province, Mars

James M. Dohm, Nadine G. Barlow, Robert C. Anderson, Jean Pierre Williams, Hirdy Miyamoto, Justin C. Ferris, Robert G. Strom, G. Jeffrey Taylor, Alberto G. Fairén, Victor R. Baker, William V. Boynton, John M. Keller, Kris Kerry, Daniel Janes, J. A.P. Rodriguez, Trent M. Hare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


A circular albedo feature in the Arabia Terra province was first hypothesized as an ancient impact basin using Viking-era information. To test this unpublished hypothesis, we have analyzed the Viking era-information together with layers of new data derived from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and Mars Odyssey (MO) missions. Our analysis indicates that Arabia Terra is an ancient geologic province of Mars with many distinct characteristics, including predominantly Noachian materials, a unique part of the highland-lowland boundary, a prominent paleotectonic history, the largest region of fretted terrain on the planet, outflow channels with no obvious origins, extensive exposures of eroded layered sedimentary deposits, and notable structural, albedo, thermal inertia, gravity, magnetic, and elemental signatures. The province also is marked by special impact crater morphologies, which suggest a persistent volatile-rich substrate. No one characteristic provides definitive answers to the dominant event(s) that shaped this unique province. Collectively the characteristics reported here support the following hypothesized sequence of events in Arabia Terra: (1) an enormous basin, possibly of impact origin, formed early in martian history when the magnetic dynamo was active and the lithosphere was relatively thin, (2) sediments and other materials were deposited in the basin during high erosion rates while maintaining isostatic equilibrium, (3) sediments became water enriched during the Noachian Period, and (4) basin materials were uplifted in response to the growth of the Tharsis Bulge, resulting in differential erosion exposing ancient stratigraphic sequences. Parts of the ancient basin remain water-enriched to the present day.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-92
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Geological processes
  • Geophysics
  • Impact processes
  • Mars
  • Tectonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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