Inverted channel

  • Alexandra Lefort
  • Rebecca Williams
  • Jarmo Korteniemi
Living reference work entry


Curving ridges along ancient fluvial valleys produced by a cementation hardened layer, clast armoring, or lava infilling of the fluvial valleys, followed by erosion of the less-resistant surrounding terrains.


Potential origin for a type of sinuous ridge on Mars.



Curving ridges that appear to be capped with a competent layer that is more resistant to erosion than the surrounding material.


Differential aeolian erosion: relief inversion may occur in locations that exhibit considerable erosion causing exposure of formerly filled and buried landforms (Weitz et al. 2010).

An inverted channel starts to form when the channel floor material obtains greater resistance than the surrounding terrain. This may occur (1) by channel bed sediment induration through geochemical cementation in the presence of water or armoring of the channel floor by coarse-grained, highly erosion resistant...


Lava Flow Fluvial Channel Channel Floor Surrounding Terrain Aeolian Erosion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Burr DM, Williams RME (2009) The Stanislaus Table Mountain: observations of a lava-capped inverted paleochannel for interpretation of inverted paleochannels on Mars. 40th Lunar Planet Sci Conf, abstract #1633, HoustonGoogle Scholar
  2. Burr DM, Enga MT, Williams RME, Zimbelman JR, Howard AD, Brennand TA (2009) Pervasive aqueous paleoflow features in the Aeolis/Zephyria Plana region, Mars. Icarus 200:52–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burr DM, Williams RME, Wendell KD, Chojnacki M, Emery JP (2010) Inverted fluvial features in the Aeolis/Zephyria Plana region, Mars: formation mechanism and initial paleodischarge estimates. J Geophys Res 115:E07011. doi:10.1029/2009JE003496Google Scholar
  4. Edgett KS (2005) The sedimentary rocks of Sinus Meridiani: five key observations from data acquired by the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey orbiters. Mars 1:5–58. doi:10.1555/mars.2005.0002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fassett CI, Head JW III (2007) Layered mantling deposits in northeast Arabia Terra, Mars: Noachian-Hesperian sedimentation, erosion, and terrain inversion. J Geophys Res 112:e08002. doi:10.1029/2006JE002875Google Scholar
  6. Glotch TD, Bandfield JL, Tornabene LL, Jensen HB, Seelos FP (2010) Distribution and formation of chlorides and phyllosilicates in Terra Sirenum, Mars. Geophys Res Lett 37:L16202. doi:10.1029/2010GL044557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gorny C, Busby C, Pluhar CJ, Hagan J, Purtika K (2009) An in-depth look at distal Sierra Nevada palaeochannel fill: drill cores through the Table Mountain Latite near Knights Ferry. Int Geol Rev 51(9–11):824–842CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Greeley R, Bridges NT, Kuzmin RO, Laity JE (2002) Terrestrial analogs to wind-related features at the Viking and Pathfinder landing sites on Mars. J Geophys Res 107:5005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Howard AD (1981) Etched plains and braided ridges of the south polar region of Mars: features produced by basal melting of ground ice? Washington, D. C. NASA Tech Memo 84211:286–288Google Scholar
  10. Lefort A, Burr DM, Beyer RA, Howard AD (2012) Inverted fluvial features in the Aeolis–Zephyria Plana, western Medusae Fossae Formation, Mars: evidence for post- formation modification. J Geophys Res 117:E03007. doi:10.1029/2011JE004008Google Scholar
  11. Mangold N, Ansan V, Masson P, Quantin C, Neukum G (2008) Geomorphic study of fluvial landforms on the northern Valles Marineris plateau, Mars. J Geophys Res 113:E08009Google Scholar
  12. Miller RP (1937) Drainage lines in bas-relief. J Geol 45(4):432–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Newsom HE, Lanza NL, Ollila AM et al (2010) Inverted channel deposits on the floor of Miyamoto crater, Mars. Icarus 205:64–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pain CF, Clarke JDA, Thomas M (2007) Inversion of relief on Mars. Icarus 190:478–491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Weitz CM, Milliken RE, Grant JA, McEwen AS, Williams RME, Bishop JL (2008) Light-toned strata and inverted channels adjacent to Juventae and Ganges chasmata, Mars. Geophys Res Lett 35(19):CiteID L19202Google Scholar
  16. Weitz CM, Milliken RE, Grant JA et al (2010) Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observations of light-toned layered deposits and associated fluvial landforms on the plateaus adjacent to Valles Marineris. Icarus 205:73–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Williams RME, Edgett KS (2005) Valleys in the martian rock record. Lunar Planet Sci XXXVI, abstract #1099, HoustonGoogle Scholar
  18. Williams RME, Malin MC, Edgett KS (2005) Remnants of the courses of fine-scale, precipitation-fed runoff streams preserved in the martian rock record, Lunar Planet Sci XXXVI, abstract #1173, HoustonGoogle Scholar
  19. Williams RME, Chidsey TC Jr, Eby DE (2007) Exhumed paleochannels in central Utah – analogs for raised curvilinear features on Mars. In: Willis GC, Hylland MD, Clark DL, Chidsey TC Jr (eds) Central Utah – diverse geology of a dynamic landscape. Utah Geological Association Publication, Salt Lake City, pp 220–235Google Scholar
  20. Williams RME, Irwin RP, Zimbelman JR (2009) Evaluation of paleohydrologic models for terrestrial inverted channels: implications for application to martian sinuous ridges. Geomorphology 107:300–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Williams RME, Irwin RP III, Zimbelman JR, Chidsey TC Jr, Eby DE (2011) Field guide to exhumed paleochannels near Green River, Utah: terrestrial analogs for sinuous ridges on Mars. In: Garry WB, Bleacher JE (eds) Analogs for planetary exploration, Geological Society of America special paper 483. Geological Society of America, Boulder, pp 483–505. doi:10.1130/2011.2483(29)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra Lefort
    • 1
  • Rebecca Williams
    • 2
  • Jarmo Korteniemi
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Planetary Science InstituteTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Earth and Space Physics, Department of PhysicsUniversity of OuluOuluFinland