A color image of Valles Marineris, the great canyon and the south Chryse basin-Valles Marineris outflow channels of Mars; north toward top. The scene shows the entire Valles Marineris canyon system, over 3,000 km long and averaging 8 km deep, extending from Noctis Labyrinthus, the arcuate system of graben to the west, to the chaotic terrain to the east and related outflow canyons that drain toward the Chryse basin. Eos and Capri Chasmata (south to north) are two canyons connected to Valles Marineris. Ganges Chasma lies directly north. The chaos in the southeast part of the image gives rise to several outflow channels, Shalbatana, Simud, Tiu, and Ares Valles (left to right), that drained north into the Chryse basin. The mouth of Ares Valles is the site of the Mars Pathfinder lander.
This image is a composite of Viking medium-resolution images in black and white and low-resolution images in color; Mercator projection. The image roughly extends from latitude 20 degrees S. to 20 degrees N. and from longitude 15 degrees to 102.5 degrees.
The connected chasma or valleys of Valles Marineris may have formed from a combination of erosional collapse and structural activity. Layers of material in the eastern canyons might consist of carbonates deposited in ancient lakes, eolian deposits, or volcanic materials. Huge ancient river channels began from Valles Marineris and from adjacent canyons and ran north. Many of the channels flowed north into Chryse Basin.
The south Chryse outflow channels are cut an average of 1 km into the cratered highland terrain. This terrain is about 9 km above datum near Valles Marineris and steadily decreases in elevation to 1 km below datum in the Chryse basin. Shalbatana is relatively narrow (10 km wide) but can reach 3 km in depth. The channel begins at a 2- to 3-km-deep circular depression within a large impact crater, whose floor is partly covered by chaotic material, and ends in Simud Valles. Tiu and Simud Valles consist of a complex of connected channel floors and chaotic terrain and extend as far south as and connect to eastern Valles Marineris. Ares Vallis originates from discontinuous patches of chaotic terrain within large craters. In the Chryse basin the Ares channel forks; one branch continues northwest into central Chryse Planitia and the other extends north into eastern Chryse Planitia.