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Ancient Winds, Waves, and Atmosphere in Gale Crater, Mars, Inferred From Sedimentary Structures and Wave Modeling

Rubin, D. M. and Lapôtre, M. A. G. and Stevens, A. W. and Lamb, M. P. and Fedo, C. M. and Grotzinger, J. P. and Gupta, S. and Stack, K. M. and Vasavada, A. R. and Banham, S. G. and Bryk, A. B. and Caravaca, G. and Christian, J. R. and Edgar, L. A. and Malin, M. C. (2022) Ancient Winds, Waves, and Atmosphere in Gale Crater, Mars, Inferred From Sedimentary Structures and Wave Modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, 127 (4). Art. No. e2021JE007162. ISSN 2169-9097. doi:10.1029/2021je007162.

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Wave modeling and analysis of sedimentary structures were used to evaluate whether four examples of symmetrical, reversing, or straight-crested bedforms in Gale crater sandstones are preserved wave ripples; deposition by waves would demonstrate that the lake was not covered by ice at that time. Wave modeling indicates that regardless of atmospheric density, winds that exceeded the threshold of aeolian sand transport could have generated waves capable of producing nearshore wave ripples in most grain sizes of sand. Reversing 3-m-wavelength bedforms in the Kimberley formation are interpreted not as wave ripples but rather as large aeolian ripples that formed in an atmosphere approximately as thin as at present. These exhumed bedforms define many of the ridges at outcrops that appear striated in satellite images. At Kimberley these bedforms demonstrably underlie and therefore predate subaqueous beds, suggesting that a thin atmosphere existed at least temporarily before subaqueous deposition ceased in the crater. The other three candidate wave ripples (Square Top, Hunda, and Voe) are consistent with modeled waves, but other origins cannot be excluded. The predominance of flat-laminated (non-rippled) beds in the lacustrine Murray formation suggests that some aspect of the lake was not conducive to formation or preservation of recognizable wave ripples. Water depths may generally have been too deep, lakebed sediment may have been too fine-grained, the lake may have been smaller than modeled, or the lake may have been covered by ice.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemNASA Planetary Data Systems ItemMSL Analyst's Notebook satellite images ItemImage of Kimberley
Rubin, D. M.0000-0003-1169-1452
Lapôtre, M. A. G.0000-0001-9941-1552
Lamb, M. P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Fedo, C. M.0000-0002-2626-1132
Grotzinger, J. P.0000-0001-9324-1257
Stack, K. M.0000-0003-3444-6695
Vasavada, A. R.0000-0003-2665-286X
Banham, S. G.0000-0003-1206-1639
Bryk, A. B.0000-0002-2013-7456
Caravaca, G.0000-0002-4138-0471
Christian, J. R.0000-0003-4646-2852
Edgar, L. A.0000-0001-7512-7813
Malin, M. C.0000-0001-6913-5577
Additional Information:© 2022. American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 18 April 2022; Version of Record online: 18 April 2022; Accepted manuscript online: 04 April 2022; Manuscript accepted: 28 March 2022; Manuscript revised: 25 March 2022; Manuscript received: 03 January 2022. The SWAN model computational grid, bathymetry, boundary conditions, and numerical and physical parameters are provided in Stevens and Rubin (2022). Part of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004), French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) under the contract ANR-16-CE31-0012 entitled Mars-Prime, and by the French space agency CNES under convention CNES 180027. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. Data Availability Statement: All Mastcam images taken by the rover are archived at the NASA Planetary Data Systems and are available at (Malin, 2013). The MSL Analyst's Notebook (Stein et al., 2016) is available at Mastcam mosaics were processed by the Mastcam team at Malin Space Science Systems. HiRISE satellite images (McEwen, 2007) are available at, and an image of Kimberley is available at
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (ANR)ANR-16-CE31-0012
Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES)180027
Subject Keywords:Gale crater; waves; ripples; Mars atmosphere; bedforms
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220429-336685400
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Rubin, D. M., Lapôtre, M. A. G., Stevens, A. W., Lamb, M. P., Fedo, C. M., Grotzinger, J. P., et al. (2022). Ancient winds, waves, and atmosphere in Gale crater, Mars, inferred from sedimentary structures and wave modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 127, e2021JE007162.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:114526
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:29 Apr 2022 18:30
Last Modified:01 May 2022 23:39

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