Dune field pattern formation and recent transporting winds in the Olympia Undae Dune Field, north polar region of Mars

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Ewing, Ryan C. ; Peyret, Aymeric-Pierre B. ; Kocurek, Gary ; Bourke, Mary (2010)
  • Publisher: American Geophysical Union

High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imagery of the central Olympia Undae Dune Field in the north polar region of Mars shows a reticulate dune pattern consisting of two sets of nearly orthogonal dune crestlines, with apparent slipfaces on the primary crests, ubiquitous wind ripples, areas of coarse-grained wind ripples, and deflated interdune areas. Geomorphic evidence and dune field pattern analysis of dune crest length, spacing, defect density, and orientation indicates that the pattern is complex, representing two constructional generations of dunes. The oldest and best-organized generation forms the primary crestlines and is transverse to circumpolar easterly winds. Gross bed form-normal analysis of the younger pattern of crestlines indicates that it emerged with both circumpolar easterly winds and NE winds and is reworking the older pattern. Mapping of secondary flow fields over the dunes indicates that the most recent transporting winds were from the NE. The younger pattern appears to represent an influx of sediment to the dune field associated with the development of the Olympia Cavi reentrant, with NE katabatic winds channeling through the reentrant. A model of the pattern reformation based upon the reconstructed primary winds and resulting secondary flow fields shows that the development of the secondary pattern is controlled by the boundary condition of the older dune topography.
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