Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Signatures of wave erosion in Titan’s coasts

June 19, 2024
The shorelines of Titan’s hydrocarbon seas trace flooded erosional landforms such as river valleys; however, it is unclear whether coastal erosion has subsequently altered these shorelines. Spacecraft observations and theoretical models suggest that wind may cause waves to form on Titan’s seas, potentially driving coastal erosion, but the observational evidence of waves is indirect, and the processes affecting shoreline evolution on Titan remain unknown. No widely accepted framework exists for using shoreline morphology to quantitatively discern coastal erosion mechanisms, even on Earth, where the dominant mechanisms are known. We combine landscape evolution models with measurements of shoreline shape on Earth to characterize how different coastal erosion mechanisms affect shoreline morphology. Applying this framework to Titan, we find that the shorelines of Titan’s seas are most consistent with flooded landscapes that subsequently have been eroded by waves, rather than a uniform erosional process or no coastal erosion, particularly if wave growth saturates at fetch lengths of tens of kilometers.
Publication Year 2024
Title Signatures of wave erosion in Titan’s coasts
DOI 10.1126/sciadv.adn4192
Authors Rose Elizabeth Palermo, Andrew D. Ashton, Jason M. Soderblom, Samuel P. D. Birch, Alexander G. Hayes, J. Taylor Perron
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science Advances
Index ID 70255535
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center