Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Geomorphology 125:3 (February 1, 2011), pp. 414–420; doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2010.10.018 Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. Used by permission.


Hydraulic conductivity K, as the coefficient of proportionality in Darcy’s Law, is critical in understanding the past Martian hydrologic cycle, climate, and landform evolution. However, K and its spatial variability on Mars are thus far poorly constrained due to lack of accessibility. Using an innovative method based on surface drainage dissection patterns, which has been successfully tested in the Oregon Cascades on Earth, we estimated K in the Mare Tyrrhenum Quadrangle on Mars. The basic assumption is that under long-term dynamic equilibrium conditions, the overall dissection pattern in a watershed as reflected in drainage density is controlled by the interplay among surface runoff, groundwater flow, topography, and aquifer properties. K is calculated following a derivative of Darcy’s Law under DuPuit–Forchheimer assumptions with drainage density D, valley depth d, recharge rate R, and aquifer thickness H as inputs. The results are consistent with the published K values and reveal spatial variability.