The polar deposits on Mars probably record martian climate history over the last 107 to 109 years (for example, Thomas and others, 1992). The area shown on this map includes polar layered deposits and polar ice, as well as some outcrops of older, underlying terrain. This quadrangle was mapped using Viking Orbiter images in order to study the relations among erosional and depositional processes on the north polar layered deposits and to compare them with the results of previous 1:500,000-scale mapping of the south polar layered deposits.
Published geologic maps of the north polar region of Mars are based on images acquired by Mariner 9 and the Viking Orbiters. The extent of the layered deposits and other units varies among previous maps, in particular within Chasma Boreale. The present map agrees most closely with the map by Dial and Dohm (1994): the mantle material is exposed farther north than mapped by Tanaka and Scott (1987).
The polar ice cap, areas of partial frost cover, the layered deposits, and two nonvolatile surface units-dust mantle and dark material-were mapped in the south polar region by Herkenhoff and Murray (1990a) at 1:2,000,000 scale using a color mosaic of Viking Orbiter images. Viking Orbiter rev 726, 768, and 771 color mosaics (taken during the northern summer of 1978) were constructed and used to identify similar color/albedo units in the north polar region, including the dark, saltating material that appears to have sources within the layered deposits. However, no dark material has been recognized in this map area. No significant difference in color exists between the layered deposits and the mantle material mapped by Dial and Dohm (1994), indicating that they are either composed of the same materials or are both covered by eolian debris. Therefore, in this map area the color mosaics are most useful for identifying areas of partial frost cover. Because the resolution of the color mosaics is not sufficient to map the color/albedo units in detail at 1:500,000-scale, contacts between them were recognized and mapped using higher resolution black-and-white Viking Orbiter images. The Viking Orbiter 2 images used to construct the map base were taken during the northern summer of 1976 (mostly Ls=133º-135º), with resolutions typically around 60 m/pixel. As noted on the published base, errors of up to 5 km exist in the placement of images in the base map; such errors are evident upon comparison of sheet 1 (summer) and sheet 2 (spring). Therefore, a new photomosaic base was created during map production and the linework was edited to match the new base.
No craters have been found in the north polar layered deposits or polar ice cap. The observed lack of craters larger than 300 m implies that the surfaces of these units are no more than 100,000 years old or that they have been resurfaced at a rate of at least 2.3 mm/yr. The recent cratering flux on Mars is poorly constrained, so inferred resurfacing rates and ages of surface units are uncertain by at least a factor of 2.
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