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The thermal evolution of Mars as constrained by paleo-heat flows


Ruiz Pérez, Javier and McGovern, Patrick and Jiménez Díaz, Alberto and López, Valle and Williams, Jean-Pierre and Hahn, Brian C. and Tejero López, Rosa (2011) The thermal evolution of Mars as constrained by paleo-heat flows. Icarus (New York, N.Y. 1962) , 215 . pp. 508-517. ISSN 0019-1035

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Lithospheric strength can be used to estimate the heat flow at the time when a given region was
deformed, allowing us to constrain the thermal evolution of a planetary body. In this sense, the high
(>300 km) effective elastic thickness of the lithosphere deduced from the very limited deflection caused
by the north polar cap of Mars indicates a low surface heat flow for this region at the present time, a finding
difficult to reconcile with thermal history models. This has started a debate on the current heat flow
of Mars and the implications for the thermal evolution of the planet. Here we perform refined estimates
of paleo-heat flow for 22 martian regions of different periods and geological context, derived from the
effective elastic thickness of the lithosphere or from faulting depth beneath large thrust faults, by considering
regional radioactive element abundances and realistic thermal conductivities for the crust and
mantle lithosphere. For the calculations based on the effective elastic thickness of the lithosphere we also
consider the respective contributions of crust and mantle lithosphere to the total lithospheric strength.
The obtained surface heat flows are in general lower than the equivalent radioactive heat production
of Mars at the corresponding times, suggesting a limited contribution from secular cooling to the heat
flow during the majority of the history of Mars. This is contrary to the predictions from the majority of
thermal history models, but is consistent with evidence suggesting a currently fluid core, limited secular
contraction for Mars, and recent extensive volcanism. Moreover, the interior of Mars could even have
been heating up during part of the thermal history of the planet.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Mars, Mars Interior, Thermal histories
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Geodynamics
ID Code:16880
Deposited On:29 Oct 2012 12:58
Last Modified:05 May 2015 16:55

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