Wrinkle Ridge Formations on Mars


Wrinkle ridges (or mare ridge) are prolonged and tight structures on Mars (Fig.1.), that are generally formed by tectonical processes (Raitala, 1990).  Besides, those formations are not only observed on Mars, and they’re commonly occurred on the different kinds of celestial bodies in the solar system, such as, Lunar, Venus, Earth and several asteroids (Watters, 1988).

Frequently, they might be defined of their ten to hundred kilometers length, few kilometers breadth with unique skew shape, and they ordinarily occurred in consequence of comppressional folding and faulting (Golombek et al, 2001). This work express and summarize briefly the morphological characteristics and the tectonic origin of the wrinkle ridges occurrences on Mars planet by taking advantage of diverse resources.


If we consider about the moon, the ridges are mostly exist on maria, but they can also occur in highlands. On Mars, ridge formations can be observed in many different environments, but in general, they’ve formed on low plains. On the other hand, martian ridges can be observed near of the calderas unlike lunar ones.

Wrinkle ridge can define as linear and corrugated antiform that is quate interesting. When they are examined as cross-sections (Fig.2.), it is observed that they are quite complex and can be divided morphologically into three groups. These ones may be defined as linear uplifts, superposed arcs and surmounted crenulated ridges (Strom, 1972; Maxwell et all., 1975, Lucchitte, 1977). As the elevations of wrinkle ridge formations may reach 500 meters and  the width of the structures can be up to 25 kilometers. However, these measurements may change when very low slopes are considered, because of angle of the sunlight that makes it difficult to measure dimensions of these types of ridges. (Conel, 1969; Maxwell, 1975; Lucchitte, 1977; Pleiscia and Golombek, 1988). When topographical profiles are examined (Fig.3.), it can be seen that they have a very asymmetrical structure, and it can be observed that the slope of one side is steeper than that of the other side (Plescia and Golombek, 1988). I have previously mentioned that ridge formations may be occured in segments. According to many different interpretations, the sensitivity of asymmetry may vary along segments or strike axis, and have continued progressively (Strom, 1972; Bryan,1973; Maxwell et al., 1975; Watters, 1988). Additionally, some secondary ridges were found around primary ridge formations and although there are various studies about their formation, I am not going to touch upon them in this work. Many studies have been done to classify the wrinkle ridges and one of them separates these formations into three groups of primary, secondary and tertiary, and pays attention to their size while categorizing (Watters, 1988).


The formation of the planet Mars corresponds to a period about 4.6 ga. In the process close to the completion of the development of the planet, the rock body  was quite warm. However, when internal heat began to be transmitted and lost more than it was produced, the internal temperature quickly began to cool down. When we associate these sudden temperature changes with expansion, we can draw the conclusion that the phase transition period within the planet has caused the inner mass to shrink (or contract). It is reasonable to assume that all this expansion and contraction process leads to the development of a characteristic tectonic character (Raitala, 1990). Whether global or regional, such as ridge formations, Mars seems to be an unquestionable fact that the tectonic formations on the planet may have come into being on the last stage of the inner development of the planet.


When we examine the wrinkle ridge structures that have occurred on our planet, we can come to the conclusion that the same conditions may apply to Mars and other celestial bodies. In that case, we can say that similar formations in Earth and Mars have the same morphological character (asymmetric antiform located on a thrust fault) and that they are formed in the result of stress (Fig.4.) due to compression (Plescia and Golombek, 1988). All of these similarities allow us to explicate that mare ridge formations are the result of deformation because of thrust faults.


Bryan, W. B. (1973), Wrinkle-ridges as deformed surface crusts on ponded mare lava: Lunar Science Conference, 4th, Proceedings, p. 93-106

Conel, J. E. (1969), Structural features relating to the origin of lunar wrinkle ridges: Jet Propulsion Laboratory Space Program Summary 37-56, v. I l l , p. 58-63

Golombek, M.P., Anderson F.S., and Zuber, M.T. (2001) Martian wrinkle ridge topography: Evidence for subsurface faults from MOLA, J. Geophys. Res., 106 : 23,811-23,821

Gordon, F. R., and Lewis, J. D. (1980), The Meckering and Calingiri earthquakes October 1968 and March 1970: Western Australia Geological Survey Bulletin, 126-229 p.

Raitala, J. (1990), Wrinkle Ridges on Mars, Adv. Space Res., 10 : 3-4

Lucchitta, B.,K (1977), Topography, structure, and mare ridges in southern Mare Imbrium and northern Oceanus Procellarum: Lunar Science Conference, 8th, Proceedings, p. 2961-2703

Maxwell, T. A., El-Baz, F., and Ward, S. H. (1975), Distribution, morphology and origin of ridges and arches in Mare Serenitatis: Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 86:1273-1278

Philip, H., and Meghraoui, M. (1983), Structural analysis and interpretation of the surface deformations of the El Asnam earthquake of October 10, 1980, Tectonics, 2:17-49.

Plescia, J.B., Golombek, M.P. (1988), Origin of planetary wrinkle ridges based on the study of terrestrial analogs, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 97.11: 1289-1299

Strom, R.G. (1972), Lunar mare ridges, rings and volcanic ring complexes, in Runcorn, S.K., and Urey, H.C., eds., The Moon, IAU Symposium, 47:187-215

Watters, T., R. (1988), Wrinkle Assemlages on the Terrestial Planets, J. Geophys. Res., 93 : 10,236-10,254


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