Investigation of the Interior Valley Networks of Central Pit Craters on Mars: Characteristics and Formation Processes



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Central pit craters are impact craters that contain central depressions, either in the crater floor or superposed on a central rise. Examples of these craters have been found broadly distributed on Mars. Using images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera and High Resolution Stereo Camera, a set of central pit craters of Hesperian or Amazonian age were found to have interior valleys draining into their central pits. This study characterizes these features and their formation processes. The networks were found to be sinuous and often have extensive, preserved tributaries. These tributary systems are often dendritic and originate from various elevations, including the tops of crater rims. The fluxes of the interior valleys are similar to those of rivers found on Earth, but are formed within relatively small watersheds. In addition, other features have been found within these craters during the course of this study. They include alluvial fans on crater walls, paleo-lakes on crater rims and within the central pits, and deltas located at the termini of the valley systems. The formation of these valleys and related features implies that water was an important geomorphologic agent on Mars even during the Hesperian and Amazonian, when Mars is commonly thought to have been largely a frozen, hyperarid planet.



Mars, Hesperian, Amazonian, Crater, Central Pits, Geomorphology, Central Pit Craters, Water