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Sedimentary processes of the Bagnold Dunes: Implications for the eolian rock record of Mars

Ewing, R. C. and Lapotre, M. G. A. and Lewis, K. W. and Day, M. and Stein, N. and Rubin, D. M. and Sullivan, R. and Banham, S. and Lamb, M. P. and Bridges, N. T. and Gupta, S. and Fischer, W. W. (2017) Sedimentary processes of the Bagnold Dunes: Implications for the eolian rock record of Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, 122 (12). pp. 2544-2573. ISSN 2169-9097. PMCID PMC5815379.

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The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity visited two active wind-blown sand dunes within Gale crater, Mars, which provided the first ground-based opportunity to compare Martian and terrestrial eolian dune sedimentary processes and study a modern analog for the Martian eolian rock record. Orbital and rover images of these dunes reveal terrestrial-like and uniquely Martian processes. The presence of grainfall, grainflow, and impact ripples resembled terrestrial dunes. Impact ripples were present on all dune slopes and had a size and shape similar to their terrestrial counterpart. Grainfall and grainflow occurred on dune and large-ripple lee slopes. Lee slopes were ~29° where grainflows were present and ~33° where grainfall was present. These slopes are interpreted as the dynamic and static angles of repose, respectively. Grain size measured on an undisturbed impact ripple ranges between 50 μm and 350 μm with an intermediate axis mean size of 113 μm (median: 103 μm). Dissimilar to dune eolian processes on Earth, large, meter-scale ripples were present on all dune slopes. Large ripples had nearly symmetric to strongly asymmetric topographic profiles and heights ranging between 12 cm and 28 cm. The composite observations of the modern sedimentary processes highlight that the Martian eolian rock record is likely different from its terrestrial counterpart because of the large ripples, which are expected to engender a unique scale of cross stratification. More broadly, however, in the Bagnold Dune Field as on Earth, dune-field pattern dynamics and basin-scale boundary conditions will dictate the style and distribution of sedimentary processes.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle ItemMSL images
Ewing, R. C.0000-0001-6337-610X
Lapotre, M. G. A.0000-0001-9941-1552
Lewis, K. W.0000-0003-3412-803X
Day, M.0000-0003-3998-7749
Stein, N.0000-0003-3385-9957
Sullivan, R.0000-0003-4191-598X
Banham, S.0000-0003-1206-1639
Lamb, M. P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Bridges, N. T.0000-0002-6790-6793
Fischer, W. W.0000-0002-8836-3054
Additional Information:© 2017 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made. Received 10 APR 2017; Accepted 26 JUN 2017; Accepted article online 5 JUL 2017; Published online 7 DEC 2017. This material is partly based upon work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, under contract 1450036 issued through the MSLPS Program and grant NNX12AJ41G awarded to N.T.B. We thank the Mars Science Laboratory Team for their effort during the Bagnold Dune Field campaign. We thank Jason Van Beek for his efforts in collecting and processing the Mastcam images. We thank the UA/HiRISE DEM production staff for providing the DEMs used in this manuscript. We thank Mark Bishop, Nick Lancaster, and Brad Thomson for detailed and thoughtful reviews that helped us greatly improve our manuscript. All MSL images used in this manuscript are available for download at the website.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:eolian; sand dunes; ripples; Gale crater; martian bed forms; Bagnold Dune Field
Issue or Number:12
PubMed Central ID:PMC5815379
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170706-080559513
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Ewing, R. C., et al. (2017), Sedimentary processes of the Bagnold Dunes: Implications for the eolian rock record of Mars, J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 122, 2544–2573, doi:10.1002/2017JE005324
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:78790
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:07 Jul 2017 21:03
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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