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Martian Gullies and their Earth Analogues

20 - 21 June 2016
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Organised by:
1. Geological Society Events, 2016 Year of Water
The Geological Society (Burlington House)
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Malin and Edgett first reported the existence of gullies on Mars in 2000. These landforms resemble terrestrial gullies and involve the transport of abundant debris down steep slopes. Malin and Edgett inferred that martian gullies were carved by liquid water from the subsurface, a result with enormous implications for Mars' climate and history and how it is recoded in its rocks, the alteration of Mars rocks and meteorites, the likelihood of viable martian life, and the availability of resources for human habitation.

Thus, our understanding of martian gullies could be important in the design of spacecraft missions, and selection of landing sites. Since Malin and Edgett’s paper there have been a wide-range of theories proposed for the origin of these landforms, including, cryovolcanism, outbursts from deep and shallow aquifers, melting snow or ice, brine-flows, sediment-rich debris flows, frosted-granular flow, and mechanisms involving liquid and gaseous carbon dioxide, amongst others. Terrestrial analogues, such as those in Iceland, Svalbard, or the Antarctic Dry Valleys, have been used extensively to support/refute these various theories.

Despite the time elapsed since their discovery, a new debate has just ignited concerning the origin of gullies on Mars. There are two opposing camps: those who believe gullies are a result of climate-driven-melting of surficial ice deposits and those who believe gullies are formed by seasonal dry-ice sublimation.

These two end-members imply either that Mars has been unusually wet in recent millennia, or that it has remained a cold dry desert – both with profound implications for understanding the water budget of Mars and its habitability. This debate questions the limits of remote sensing data and how we interpret processes active on planetary surfaces, even beyond those on Mars.

Purpose and Scope

This meeting follows on from the original workshop on martin gullies held in 2008 at LPI in Houston Texas. This happened 8 years after their first discovery and formed a focal point for researchers studying gullies through remote sensing, fieldwork studies of Earth analogues and laboratory simulation studies.

The aim of this second workshop would be not only to bring together the plethora of researchers involved in gully-research on Mars, but also to add a wider perspective by including contributions from those studying analogous environments on Earth such as, geomorphologists, sedimentologists glaciologists, hydrologists, climatologists, soil scientists and mineralogists/petrologists.

We would particularly encourage Earth Scientists working on sites or topics which could be considered as informative analogues for water on the Martian surface. These wider perspectives add both depth and context, allowing researchers not traditionally attached to gully-research to add their outside expertise to the ongoing debate.


A PDF programme is available for download.

Keynote speakers include:

Bill Dietrich, University of California

Anne Mangeney, IPGP

Andrew McEwen, University of Arizona

Registration Now Open

You can either register for the conference online or download the registration form and return it to the Conference Office.

To receive a discount for the event (Fellows, Other Societies, Students etc) please complete the paper registration form and return it to the Conference Office 

The 'Other Societies' online registration rate relates to members of the AAPG, AIPG, GSA, NGWA and SEPM.

Conference grants


Travel grants are available to IAS Student Members through the IAS website by Friday 15 April 2016.


The International Association of Geomorphologists is offering 2 grants of 250 euros to favour the participation of Young Geomorphologists (under 35 years old), who are not from the UK.  For full details about the grant, download the Call for IAG Grants document.


  • Susan Conway (Open University)
  • Jonathan Carrivick (University of Leeds)
  • Paul Carling (University of Southampton)
  • Tjalling de Haas (Utrecht University)
  • Allan Treiman (LPI)

Event Partner


2016 is The Geological Society's Year of Water. 
Click here for more information on other events connected to the Year of Water 


Registration rates

£ 60.00
£ 110.00
£ 60.00
£ 60.00
£ 60.00
£ 40.00
£ 40.00

Geolsoc Contact

Georgina Worrall

Burlington House

Event sponsors