Sands at Gusev Crater, Mars

Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
By: , and 

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Abstract

Processes, environments, and the energy associated with the transport and deposition of sand at Gusev Crater are characterized at the microscopic scale through the comparison of statistical moments for particle size and shape distributions. Bivariate and factor analyses define distinct textural groups at 51 sites along the traverse completed by the Spirit rover as it crossed the plains and went into the Columbia Hills. Fine-to-medium sand is ubiquitous in ripples and wind drifts. Most distributions show excess fine material, consistent with a predominance of wind erosion over the last 3.8 billion years. Negative skewness at West Valley is explained by the removal of fine sand during active erosion, or alternatively, by excess accumulation of coarse sand from a local source. The coarse to very coarse sand particles of ripple armors in the basaltic plains have a unique combination of size and shape. Their distribution display significant changes in their statistical moments within the ~400 m that separate the Columbia Memorial Station from Bonneville Crater. Results are consistent with aeolian and/or impact deposition, while the elongated and rounded shape of the grains forming the ripples, as well as their direction of origin, could point to Ma'adim Vallis as a possible source. For smaller particles on the traverse, our findings confirm that aeolian processes have dominated over impact and other processes to produce sands with the observed size and shape patterns across a spectrum of geologic (e.g., ripples and plains soils) and aerographic settings (e.g., wind shadows).

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Sands at Gusev Crater, Mars
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
DOI 10.1002/2013JE004535
Volume 119
Issue 5
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Publisher location Richmond, VA
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 27 p.
First page 941
Last page 967
Other Geospatial Mars
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N