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The birth and death of transverse aeolian ridges on Mars

November 8, 2014

Transverse aeolian ridges (TARs) are small bright windblown deposits found throughout the Martian tropics that stand a few meters tall and are spaced a few tens of meters apart. The origin of these features remains mysterious more than 20 years after their discovery on Mars. This paper presents a new hypothesis, that some of the TARs could be indurated dust deposits emplaced millions of years ago during periods of higher axial obliquity. It suggests that these TARs are primary depositional bed forms that accumulated in place from dust carried by the winds in suspension, perhaps in a manner comparable to antidunes on Earth, and were subsequently indurated and eroded to their current states by eons of sandblasting. It points out examples of modern dust drifts and dune‐like features that appear to have been recently formed by dust accumulating directly onto the surface from atmospheric suspension. It shows how these pristine dust deposits could evolve to explain the range of morphologies of the TARs. Finally, it explains how the known properties of many TARs are consistent with this hypothesis, including their composition, thermal behavior, and distribution.

Publication Year 2014
Title The birth and death of transverse aeolian ridges on Mars
DOI 10.1002/2014JE004633
Authors Paul E. Geissler
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Index ID 70173943
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center