AEOLIA and AMAZONIA
by Chris Wayan, 2003
Mars Reborn: homepage -- Index: Martian place names -- Planetocopia: more world-models
On Mars, coasts may be dotted with small islands, but on a large scale, they're either straight, or arcs around an impact basin--simple, businesslike coasts. But here the rule is broken--from the mouth of the Aeolian Strait, east for 4000 km, huge capes and bays alternate. And the bays continue inland as lowland valleys--the Great Escarpment ending the southern highlands is broken and jagged here. These low, tropical, cliff-lined valleys, little Nepenthes, are among the most fertile lands on Mars, and the rainy uplands of the heads between them are not far behind.
The coastline shown here is guesswork, for two reasons: relief here is modest, so slight changes in sea level make a big difference, and also, a new Mars flyby hints that many of these hills are really as much as 85% ice, under a cover of dust. Once Mars thaws, capes and islands may merely melt into the shallow sea. Certainly some will survive (Mt. Apollinaris is no ice-floe!) but details are uncertain.
The Ma'adim arises far south, in low east-west mountains that are really the linked walls of a chain of deep craters, deep enough to have thick warm air, marshes and lakes, even trees in spots--the last gasp of the subtropic zone. Beyond is the cool dusty Cimmerian Desert.
East of Apollonaris and Gusev, the green Amazonis coast rivals Aeolia and Nepenthe for lushness--the North Sea sends tongues below the equator here. A great, rugged upland juts into the Amazonis Sea--Cape Lucus, surrounded by a complex of lesser capes, islands and sounds, all parallel--these are half-flooded fossae.
Beyond these Lucus Fossae, one final green valley extends 1000 kilometers south--the Mangala Valley, one of the longest rivercourses on Mars, and an oasis in the mostly dry southern hemisphere.
Even so, Mangala's no rainforest like the rest of Amazonis. Wooded in the north, grassy in the south, it's surprisingly cool and windy for a tropical zone. Small icy streams, pink and salmon with glacial silt, fall down its high, windy eastern cliffs--the rim of Tharsis.
The rim of another world.
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