Eolian controlled modification of the martian south polar layered deposits

Michelle R. Koutnik, Shane Byrne, Bruce C. Murray, Anthony D. Toigo, Zane A. Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) and Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) aboard the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission and the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) aboard the Mars Odyssey mission have revealed unique surface features in a particular region of the South Polar Layered Deposits (SPLD). The dominant morphology is large-scale quasi-parallel grooves that extend for hundreds of kilometers with only tens of meters of vertical relief, that we have termed here the "Wire Brush" terrain. The grooves are also transected by disjointed, yet roughly continuous, low-relief sinuous ridges that cross roughly perpendicular to the trend-direction of the large-scale grooves and show only tens of meters of relief. We interpret these ridges to be eroded remnants of folded layers. At the northern end of the large-scale grooves there are non-symmetric mounds. They are frequently preceded by a significant depression and/or trailing grooves that are parallel to the Wire Brush trend. We find that a two-stage process involving winds that intermittently remove a low-density crust exposing the underlying ice to ablation is the interpretation that best explains the multitude of features observed here. These features appear to be currently inactive indicating higher winds in previous epochs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-501
Number of pages12
Issue number2 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Ices
  • Mars, surface
  • Polar
  • Wind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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