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Spatial grain size sorting in eolian ripples and estimation of wind conditions on planetary surfaces: Application to Meridiani Planum, Mars

Jerolmack, Douglas J. and Mohrig, David and Grotzinger, John P. and Fike, David A. and Watters, Wesley A. (2006) Spatial grain size sorting in eolian ripples and estimation of wind conditions on planetary surfaces: Application to Meridiani Planum, Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research E, 111 (E5). Art. No. E12S02. ISSN 0148-0227.

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The landscape seen by the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity at Meridiani Planum is dominated by eolian (wind-blown) ripples with concentrated surface lags of hematitic spherules and fragments. These ripples exhibit profound spatial grain size sorting, with well-sorted coarse-grained crests and poorly sorted, generally finer-grained troughs. These ripples were the most common bed form encountered by Opportunity in its traverse from Eagle Crater to Endurance Crater. Field measurements from White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, show that such coarse-grained ripples form by the different transport modes of coarse- and fine-grain fractions. On the basis of our field study, and simple theoretical and experimental considerations, we show how surface deposits of coarse-grained ripples can be used to place tight constraints on formative wind conditions on planetary surfaces. Activation of Meridiani Planum coarse-grained ripples requires a wind velocity of 70 m/s (at a reference elevation of 1 m above the bed). From images by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) of reversing dust streaks, we estimate that modern surface winds reach a velocity of at least 40 m/s and hence may occasionally activate these ripples. The presence of hematite at Meridiani Planum is ultimately related to formation of concretions during aqueous diagenesis in groundwater environments; however, the eolian concentration of these durable particles may have led to the recognition from orbit of this environmentally significant landing site.

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URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle
Mohrig, David0000-0003-1828-4526
Grotzinger, John P.0000-0001-9324-1257
Fike, David A.0000-0003-2848-0328
Additional Information:© 2006 by the American Geophysical Union. Received 27 July 2005; revised 17 November 2005; accepted 29 November 2005; published 27 May 2006. Ian Garrick-Bethell, Joel Johnson, Brandon McElroy, Anna Monders, Will Ouimet, John Southard, and Kyle Straub were part of the data collection and processing team for the field campaign at White Sands. John Southard and Robert Sullivan contributed key insights regarding sediment transport, and helpful comments that improved this manuscript. MER scientists Jeffrey Johnson, Scott McLennan, and Christian Schro¨der also provided helpful comments. Bill Conrod and crew of White Sands National Monument are thanked for their enthusiastic support in terms of logistics and guidance in the field. Reviews by David Baratoux, Nicholas Lancaster, and Ken Edgett improved the clarity and scope of this manuscript, and were facilitated by the balanced editing of Jeff Plescia. Our gratitude is extended to the entire MER science and engineering team for data collection and support. This work was performed for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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Issue or Number:E5
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130222-133843487
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Official Citation:Jerolmack, D. J., D. Mohrig, J. P. Grotzinger, D. A. Fike, and W. A. Watters (2006), Spatial grain size sorting in eolian ripples and estimation of wind conditions on planetary surfaces: Application to Meridiani Planum, Mars, J. Geophys. Res., 111, E12S02, doi:10.1029/2005JE002544
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:37084
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Feb 2013 23:35
Last Modified:13 Dec 2019 02:30

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