EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Chaotic Caldera collapse: a new interpretation for the origin of Chaotic terrains on Mars

Erica Luzzi1, Angelo Pio Rossi1, Matteo Massironi2, Riccardo Pozzobon2, Daniele Maestrelli3, and Giacomo Corti3
Erica Luzzi et al.
  • 1Jacobs University, Physics and Earth Sciences, Bremen, Germany (
  • 2Dipartimento di Geoscienze, Università degli Studi di Padova, Padova, Italy
  • 3CNR-IGG, The National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources, Florence, Italy

Chaotic terrains are broad regions on Mars characterized by the occurrence of angular-polygonal blocks separated by deep fractures and grabens, associated with collapse chains and with the overall mineralogy consisting mainly in basalts (Luzzi et al., submitted, 2020). Several mechanisms of formation for Chaotic terrains were proposed in the literature. While it is a shared opinion that the peculiar structures delineating the polygonal blocks of the Chaotic terrains are due to a collapse, the actual process at the origin of such collapse is still debated. Collapses due to the overpressure within a confined aquifer were proposed (Rodriguez et al., 2005; Andrews-Hanna & Phillips, 2007) as well as related to magma-ice/water interactions (Chapman & Tanaka, 2002; Leask et al., 2006; Meresse et al., 2008), or melting of a buried frozen lake (Zegers et al., 2010). We propose a new formation scenario for Chaotic Terrains: a Chaotic (or Piecemeal) Caldera collapse. In such a Caldera collapse the fragmentation of the floor is irregular and characterized by polygonal blocks. We reproduced this process in a series of analogue experiments similar to those performed by Troll et al. (2002): a rubber membrane was used to simulate the magma chamber with multiple cycles of inflation and deflation that generate the characteristic fractures in an overlying K-feldspar sand layer. We performed the experiments in different settings (different geometry of the magma chamber and different depth) and we found that the geometry of the basin is influenced mainly by the shape of the magma chamber. Moreover, after the second cycle of inflation and deflation, the deformation tends to be moderate, consisting only in the formation of minor fractures and not in deep structures, responsible for the polygonal blocks fragmentation, which are instead formed during the first cycles. From a morphological point of view, the reproduced geometry is strikingly similar to that of  Chaotic terrains on Mars. Further quantitative analyses on the DEMs are ongoing in order to assess the role played by each variable and refine a plausible collapse history for the specific case of study of Arsinoes Chaos.


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How to cite: Luzzi, E., Rossi, A. P., Massironi, M., Pozzobon, R., Maestrelli, D., and Corti, G.: Chaotic Caldera collapse: a new interpretation for the origin of Chaotic terrains on Mars, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11071,, 2020


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