Flank vents and graben as indicators of Late Amazonian volcanotectonic activity on Olympus Mons

S. I. Peters, Philip Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Previous studies have focused on large-scale features on Olympus Mons, such as its flank terraces, the summit caldera complex, and the basal escarpment and aureole deposits. Here we identify and characterize previously unrecognized and unmapped small scale features to help further understand the volcanotectonic evolution of this enormous volcano. Using Context Camera, High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, Thermal Emission Imaging System, High Resolution Stereo Camera Digital Terrain Model, and Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter data, we identified and characterized the morphology and distribution of 60 flank vents and 84 grabens on Olympus Mons. We find that effusive eruptions have dominated volcanic activity on Olympus Mons in the Late Amazonian. Explosive eruptions were rare, implying volatile-poor magmas and/or a lack of magma-water interactions during the Late Amazonian. The distribution of flank vents suggests dike propagation of hundreds of kilometers and shallow magma storage. Small grabens, not previously observed in lower-resolution data, occur primarily on the lower flanks of Olympus Mons and indicate late-stage extensional tectonism. Based on superposition relationships, we have concluded two stages of development for Olympus Mons during the Late Amazonian: (1) primarily effusive resurfacing and formation of flank vents followed by (2) waning effusive volcanism and graben formation and/or reactivation. This developmental sequence resembles that proposed for Ascraeus Mons and other large Martian shields, suggesting a similar geologic evolution for these volcanoes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-523
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Olympus Mons
  • tectonism
  • volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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