Terrestrial subaqueous seafloor dunes: Possible analogs for Venus

Aeolian Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

Dunes on Venus, first discovered with Magellan Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) in the early 1990s, have fueled discussions about the viability of Venusian dunes and aeolian grain transport. Confined to two locations on Venus, the existence of the interpreted dunes provides evidence that there could be transportable material being mobilized into aeolian bedforms at the surface. However, because of the high-pressure high-temperature surface conditions, laboratory analog studies are difficult to conduct and results are difficult to extrapolate to full-sized, aeolian bedforms. Field sites of desert dunes, which are well-studied on Earth and Mars, are not analogous to what is observed on Venus because of the differences in the fluid environments. One potentially underexplored possibility in planetary science for Venus-analog dune fields could be subaqueous, seafloor dune fields on Earth. Known to the marine geology communities since the early 1960s, seafloor dunes are rarely cited in planetary aeolian bedform literature, but could provide a necessary thick-atmosphere extension to the classically studied aeolian dune environment literature for thinner atmospheres. Through discussion of the similarity of the two environments, and examples of dunes and ripples cited in marine literature, we provide evidence that subaqueous seafloor dunes could serve as analogs for dunes on Venus. Furthermore, the evidence presented here demonstrates the usefulness of the marine literature for thick-atmosphere planetary environments and potentially for upcoming habitable worlds and oceanic environment research program opportunities. Such useful cross-disciplinary discussion of dune environments is applicable to many planetary environments (Earth, Mars, Venus, Titan, etc.) and potential future missions.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Terrestrial subaqueous seafloor dunes: Possible analogs for Venus
Series title Aeolian Research
DOI 10.1016/j.aeolia.2017.03.002
Volume 26
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 47
Last page 56
Other Geospatial Venus