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Terrestrial subaqueous seafloor dunes: Possible analogs for Venus

April 6, 2017

Dunes on Venus, first discovered with Magellan Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) in the early 1990s, have fueled discussions about the viability of Venusian dunes and aeolian grain transport. Confined to two locations on Venus, the existence of the interpreted dunes provides evidence that there could be transportable material being mobilized into aeolian bedforms at the surface. However, because of the high-pressure high-temperature surface conditions, laboratory analog studies are difficult to conduct and results are difficult to extrapolate to full-sized, aeolian bedforms. Field sites of desert dunes, which are well-studied on Earth and Mars, are not analogous to what is observed on Venus because of the differences in the fluid environments. One potentially underexplored possibility in planetary science for Venus-analog dune fields could be subaqueous, seafloor dune fields on Earth. Known to the marine geology communities since the early 1960s, seafloor dunes are rarely cited in planetary aeolian bedform literature, but could provide a necessary thick-atmosphere extension to the classically studied aeolian dune environment literature for thinner atmospheres. Through discussion of the similarity of the two environments, and examples of dunes and ripples cited in marine literature, we provide evidence that subaqueous seafloor dunes could serve as analogs for dunes on Venus. Furthermore, the evidence presented here demonstrates the usefulness of the marine literature for thick-atmosphere planetary environments and potentially for upcoming habitable worlds and oceanic environment research program opportunities. Such useful cross-disciplinary discussion of dune environments is applicable to many planetary environments (Earth, Mars, Venus, Titan, etc.) and potential future missions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Terrestrial subaqueous seafloor dunes: Possible analogs for Venus
DOI 10.1016/j.aeolia.2017.03.002
Authors Lynn D.V. Neakrase, Martina Klose, Timothy N. Titus
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Aeolian Research
Index ID 70186660
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center