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Orbital and In‐Situ Investigation of Periodic Bedrock Ridges in Glen Torridon, Gale Crater, Mars

Stack, Kathryn M. and Dietrich, William E. and Lamb, Michael P. and Sullivan, Robert J. and Christian, John R. and Newman, Claire E. and O’Connell‐Cooper, Catherine D. and Sneed, Jonathan W. and Day, Mackenzie and Baker, Mariah and Arvidson, Raymond E. and Fedo, Christopher M. and Khan, Sabrina and Williams, Rebecca M. E. and Bennett, Kristen A. and Bryk, Alexander B. and Cofield, Shannon and Edgar, Lauren A. and Fox, Valerie K. and Fraeman, Abigail A. and House, Christopher H. and Rubin, David M. and Sun, Vivian Z. and Beek, Jason K. (2022) Orbital and In‐Situ Investigation of Periodic Bedrock Ridges in Glen Torridon, Gale Crater, Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, 127 (6). Art. No. e2021JE007096. ISSN 2169-9097. doi:10.1029/2021je007096.

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Gale crater, the field site for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, contains a diverse and extensive record of aeolian deposition and erosion. This study focuses on a series of regularly spaced, curvilinear, and sometimes branching bedrock ridges that occur within the Glen Torridon region on the lower northwest flank of Aeolis Mons, the central mound within Gale crater. During Curiosity's exploration of Glen Torridon between sols ∼2300–3080, the rover drove through this field of ridges, providing the opportunity for in situ observation of these features. This study uses orbiter and rover data to characterize ridge morphology, spatial distribution, compositional and material properties, and association with other aeolian features in the area. Based on these observations, we find that the Glen Torridon ridges are consistent with an origin as wind-eroded bedrock ridges, carved during the exhumation of Mount Sharp. Erosional features like the Glen Torridon ridges observed elsewhere on Mars, termed periodic bedrock ridges (PBRs), have been interpreted to form transverse to the dominant wind direction. The size and morphology of the Glen Torridon PBRs are consistent with transverse formative winds, but the orientation of nearby aeolian bedforms and bedrock erosional features raise the possibility of PBR formation by a net northeasterly wind regime. Although several formation models for the Glen Torridon PBRs are still under consideration, and questions persist about the nature of PBR-forming paleowinds, the presence of PBRs at this site provides important constraints on the depositional and erosional history of Gale crater.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemNASA Planetary Data Systems ItemHigh Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) digital elevation model ItemHiRISE grayscale merged orthophoto ItemHiRISE images ItemArchived HiRISE images ItemCompact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) data
Stack, Kathryn M.0000-0003-3444-6695
Lamb, Michael P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Sullivan, Robert J.0000-0003-4191-598X
Christian, John R.0000-0003-4646-2852
Newman, Claire E.0000-0001-9990-8817
O’Connell‐Cooper, Catherine D.0000-0003-4561-3663
Sneed, Jonathan W.0000-0001-5006-5716
Day, Mackenzie0000-0003-3998-7749
Baker, Mariah0000-0002-2361-1045
Arvidson, Raymond E.0000-0002-2854-0362
Fedo, Christopher M.0000-0002-2626-1132
Khan, Sabrina0000-0003-4212-4848
Williams, Rebecca M. E.0000-0003-1571-6952
Bennett, Kristen A.0000-0001-8105-7129
Bryk, Alexander B.0000-0002-2013-7456
Edgar, Lauren A.0000-0001-7512-7813
Fox, Valerie K.0000-0002-0972-1192
Fraeman, Abigail A.0000-0003-4017-5158
House, Christopher H.0000-0002-4926-4985
Rubin, David M.0000-0003-1169-1452
Sun, Vivian Z.0000-0003-1480-7369
Beek, Jason K.0000-0002-6772-4914
Additional Information:© 2022 Jet Propulsion Laboratory. California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes. Issue Online: 26 May 2022; Version of Record online: 26 May 2022; Accepted manuscript online: 16 May 2022; Manuscript accepted: 07 May 2022; Manuscript revised: 03 May 2022; Manuscript received: 18 October 2021. This effort was carried out in part at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, and at the home institutions of the named co-authors under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The authors would like to acknowledge the scientists and engineers of the MSL Curiosity and MRO missions for acquiring and providing the data used in this study. Mastcam mosaics were processed by the Mastcam team at Malin Space Science Systems. Fred Calef provided context on the orbiter basemaps used in this study and provided guidance regarding impact craters and crater retention ages. Laura Kerber shared her expertise on yardangs and other aeolian erosion features. The authors would like to thank and acknowledge Dr. Elena Favaro and two anonymous reviewers of this manuscript whose comments substantially improved this paper. 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 Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity data products and data sets, including Mars Descent Imager (Malin, 2013a), Mastcam (Malin, 2013b), Rear Hazcam (Maki, 2013a), and Navcam (Maki, 2013b) images and Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (Gellert, 2013) data are archived at the NASA Planetary Data Systems and are available at The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) digital elevation model (Calef & Parker, 2016b) is available at The HiRISE grayscale merged orthophoto (Calef & Parker, 2016a) on which the color mosaic is based, is available at Individual HiRISE images, including color images, are available at and are archived at the NASA Planetary Data Systems at Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) data (Murchie, 2006) is archived at the NASA Planetary Data Systems and are available at All other data products related to the CRISM-derived thermal inertia values presented in this paper can be accessed through Christian et al. (2021; Digital Research Materials) and are available at Glen Torridon ridge, transverse aeolian ridge, and ripple shapefiles, as well as shapefiles showing the locations of wavelength profiles and individual ridge topographic profiles are available from Stack (2021) at The Mars Weather Research and Forecasting modeling outputs used in this paper are available at Newman (2022) at
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:periodic bedrock ridges; Mars Science Laboratory; Gale crater; Glen Torridon; aeolian processes
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220610-933046600
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Stack, K. M., Dietrich, W. E., Lamb, M. P., Sullivan, R. J., Christian, J. R., Newman, C. E., et al. (2022). Orbital and in-situ investigation of periodic bedrock ridges in Glen Torridon, Gale Crater, Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 127, e2021JE007096.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:115134
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:13 Jun 2022 17:26
Last Modified:13 Jun 2022 17:26

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