Development of the highland/lowland dichotomy boundary on Mars
crustal dichotomy boundary on Mars is a narrow region separating the cratered
highlands, located mostly in the southern hemisphere of Mars, from the
northern hemisphere's lowland plains. The cratered highlands stand two
to five kilometers higher than the lowland plains, so the boundary is
a relatively steep slope. The processes that created and modified the
dichotomy boundary remain among the major unanswered issues in Mars science.
Our research includes studies of tectonics (folding and faulting) and
erosion along the boundary, with a goal of better understanding how the
dichotomy boundary formed and evolved with time. The highland crust along
the boundary appears to have been flexed downward early in Martian history,
perhaps due to emplacing a heavy load of volcanic materials in the lowlands.
After the crustal boundary formed, sediment was trapped at the base of
the slope, and later erosion of this sedimentary deposit formed the fretted
terrain that is unique to Mars.
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