Large wind ripples on Mars: A record of atmospheric evolution

Science
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Abstract

Wind blowing over sand on Earth produces decimeter-wavelength ripples and hundred-meter– to kilometer-wavelength dunes: bedforms of two distinct size modes. Observations from the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal that Mars hosts a third stable wind-driven bedform, with meter-scale wavelengths. These bedforms are spatially uniform in size and typically have asymmetric profiles with angle-of-repose lee slopes and sinuous crest lines, making them unlike terrestrial wind ripples. Rather, these structures resemble fluid-drag ripples, which on Earth include water-worked current ripples, but on Mars instead form by wind because of the higher kinematic viscosity of the low-density atmosphere. A reevaluation of the wind-deposited strata in the Burns formation (about 3.7 billion years old or younger) identifies potential wind-drag ripple stratification formed under a thin atmosphere.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Large wind ripples on Mars: A record of atmospheric evolution
Series title Science
DOI 10.1126/science.aaf3206
Volume 353
Issue 6294
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher AAAS
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 3 p.
First page 55
Last page 58
Other Geospatial Mars
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N