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The Mars Global Digital Dune Database (MGD3): Composition and stability

May 6, 2020

We present an expansion to the Mars Global Digital Dune Database (MGD3) describing 1) bulk dune field composition determined by fitting a mineral spectral library to Thermal Emission Spectra (TES) data, and 2) a morphologic stability index that measures the degree of non-aeolian modification that has eroded and stabilized each dune field. This paper describes results for these two components, providing insight into global patterns of dune sand sources, postdepositional alteration, and mineral maturity. Consistent with the work of others, the main mineral components of each analyzed dune field are feldspar, pyroxene, and high-silica phases, with minor amounts of olivine and possibly sulfate minerals. Subtle global-scale spatial variations in olivine and feldspar abundances correspond with previously observed trends in surface mineralogy, suggesting that dune sand is reflective of its regional setting, and thus that aeolian sand has typically not traveled far (<~100s of km) from its source regions. Dune-field-scale stabilization features are found mainly south of 60S, and in a few areas north of 60N, consistent with observed dune and ripple migration rates in these areas. The presence of such stabilization features may be an indicator of where bedform migration rates are low. Abundances of high-silica phases are elevated in some dune fields located in the southern mid- to high-latitudes, particularly in those dune fields located on intercrater plains, where stabilization features tend to be less well developed and where ripples tend to be actively migrating. This correlation of high-silica phase abundance with bedform activity also occurs in the north polar sand seas. In the north polar sand seas, this spectral signature has been attributed to iron-bearing glass that has been weathered through acid leaching, leaving behind silica-enriched rinds, and kept free of any precipitated coatings through active saltation. We hypothesize that near and thermal infrared spectral signatures of acid leaching are indicators of aeolian activity, and thus potentially of mineral maturity, in dune sands abundant in iron-bearing glass.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title The Mars Global Digital Dune Database (MGD3): Composition and stability
DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2019.04.025
Authors Lori K. Fenton, Amber Gullikson, Rosalyn Hayward, Heather Charles, Timothy N. Titus
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Icarus
Index ID 70211702
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center