Large wind ripples on Mars: A record of atmospheric evolution Academic Article uri icon

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.

altmetric score

  • 318.798

author list (cited authors)

  • Lapotre, M., Ewing, R. C., Lamb, M. P., Fischer, W. W., Grotzinger, J. P., Rubin, D. M., ... Yingst, R. A.

citation count

  • 96

publication date

  • June 2016