The Evolution of Surface Topography and Environment of Mars from Channel Networks

  • Rickbir Bahia

Student thesis: Phd


The main aim of my project was to identify and investigate the properties of Martian valley networks and channels using a combination of remote sensing datasets, GIS techniques, image processing software, and palaeohydraulic calculations to further our understanding of the development of the Martian surface and environment since valley formation ~3.7 Gyr. This led to the production of four papers. This first developed an updated high resolution Martian Valley and Channel Map between 20°E-20°W and 90°N-90°S, allowing for the production of a ‘Valley Discordance Map’ which uses fluvially produced valleys as indicators of topographic alteration since their termination. This study has resulted in an understanding of fluvial valley, channel, glacial valley and subglacial channel formation and hydrology. Considering the manual mapping of valley networks is a relatively subjective process, I conducted a valley mapping study. This involved 85 local college students and 75 2nd Year Geology/Geology with Planetary Science students, to determine the degrees of this subjectivity and how it is affected by subject knowledge. This was the basis of the second paper. The third paper utilised the updated high resolution Martian Valley and Channel Map and the Valley Discordance Map, allowing me to investigate the application of terrestrial palaeohydraulic scaling relationships on Mars. This found that valley networks on Mars do abide by these scaling laws and those that do not have been topographically altered since their termination. Secondly, I developed a new technique for determining whether a valley basin has undergone topographic alteration since its termination. I conducted a final study - and fourth paper - using the techniques I had developed up to this point to investigate the topographic and environmental evolution of Darwin Crater. My project was supervised by Dr Merren Jones, Dr Stephen Covey-Crump and Dr Neil Mitchell, and these investigations have resulted in two published conference abstracts, one paper accepted for publication, two papers in submission, and one paper in preparation for for submission.
Date of Award1 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorStephen Covey-Crump (Supervisor), Merren Jones (Supervisor) & Neil Mitchell (Supervisor)

Cite this