The morphology of transverse aeolian ridges on Mars

Aeolian Research
By:  and 



A preliminary survey of publicly released high resolution digital terrain models (DTMs) produced by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter identified transverse aeolian ridges (TARs) in 154 DTMs in latitudes from 50°S to 40°N. Consistent with previous surveys, the TARs identified in HiRISE DTMs are found at all elevations, irrespective of the regional thermal inertia of the surface. Ten DTMs were selected for measuring the characteristics of the TARs, including maximum height, mean height, mean spacing (wavelength), and the slope of the surface where they are located. We confined our measurements to features that were taller than 1 m and spaced more than 10 m apart. We found a surprisingly wide variability of TAR sizes within each local region (typically 5 km by 25 km), with up to a factor of 7 difference in TAR wavelengths in a single DTM. The TAR wavelengths do not appear to be correlated to latitude or elevation, but the largest TARs in our small survey were found at lower elevations. The tallest TARs we measured were on the flat floor of Moni crater, within Kaiser crater in the southern highlands. These TARs are up to 14 m tall, with a typical wavelength of 120 m. TAR heights are weakly correlated with their wavelengths. The height-to-wavelength ratios for most TARs are far less than 1/2π (the maximum predicted for antidunes), however in two cases the ratio is close to 1/2π, and in one case (in the bend of a channel) the ratio exceeds 1/2π. TAR wavelengths are uncorrelated with surface slope, both on local and regional scales. TAR heights are weakly anti-correlated with local slope. These results help constrain models of TAR formation, particularly a new hypothesis (Geissler, 2014) that suggests that TARs were formed from micron-sized dust that was transported in suspension. The lack of correlation between TAR wavelength and surface slope seems to rule out formation by gravity-driven dust flows such as avalanches or density currents, and suggests that the TARs were instead produced by the Martian winds.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The morphology of transverse aeolian ridges on Mars
Series title Aeolian Research
DOI 10.1016/j.aeolia.2016.08.008
Volume 26
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 9 p.
First page 63
Last page 71