The Oligocene-Miocene Guadalope-Matarranya Fan, Spain, as an Analog for Long-Lived, Ridge-Bearing Megafans on Mars

A. T. Hayden, M. P. Lamb, P. M. Myrow, D. Mohrig, R. M.E. Williams, J. L. Cuevas Martínez, B. T. Cardenas, C. P. Findlay, R. C. Ewing, B. J. McElroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Numerous sedimentary fans on Mars have been studied to better understand the early martian hydrological system. Of particular interest is to estimate the duration of fluvial activity from alluvial fan size by dividing deposit volume by bankfull sediment flux. However, such a calculation requires an intermittency factor—a parameter relating sediment discharge from channel-filling (bankfull) floods to the long-term mean sediment discharge—which is poorly constrained. Here, we investigated fluvial fan deposits from the Oligocene–Miocene Caspe Formation, Spain, as an analog to fans on Mars because it has exhumed channel belts that create sinuous ridges in the modern topography, similar to those observed on Mars that are used for paleohydraulics. We made measurements of the thicknesses of dune and bar cross sets within exhumed channel belts at nine field sites to reconstruct bankfull channel depth (∼1.4 m) and bankfull sediment flux (∼0.48 m3/s). We estimated total bed-material sediment volume of the fan (362 km3) from stratigraphic thickness, the area containing exhumed channel belts, porosity and sand fraction. Combined with previous constraints on depositional timespan (∼6 Myr), we calculated a sediment-transport intermittency factor of 0.004 (range: 0.0004–0.04). Our approach can be applied to Mars by using remote sensing measurements of fluvial ridge morphology, which indicates the possibility of long depositional timespans exceeding millions of years for martian fans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JE006993
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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