Publications by authors named "Lori K Fenton"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Boundary condition controls on the high-sand-flux regions of Mars.

Geology 2019 May 11;47(5):427-430. Epub 2019 Mar 11.

Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.

Wind has been an enduring geologic agent throughout the history of Mars, but it is often unclear where and why sediment is mobile in the current epoch. We investigated whether eolian bed-form (dune and ripple) transport rates are depressed or enhanced in some areas by local or regional boundary conditions (e.g., topography, sand supply/availability). Bedform heights, migration rates, and sand fluxes all span two to three orders of magnitude across Mars, but we found that areas with the highest sand fluxes are concentrated in three regions: Syrtis Major, Hellespontus Montes, and the north polar erg. All regions are located near prominent transition zones of topography (e.g., basins, polar caps) and thermophysical properties (e.g., albedo variations); these are not known to be critical terrestrial boundary conditions. The two regions adjacent to major impact basins (Hellas and Isidis Planitia) showed radially outward upslope winds driving sand movement, although seasonally reversing wind regimes were also observed. The northern polar dunes yielded the highest known fluxes on the planet, driven by summer katabatic winds modulated by the seasonal CO cap retreat-processes not known to affect terrestrial dunes. In contrast, southern dune fields (<45°S) were less mobile, likely as a result of seasonal frost and ground ice suppressing sand availability. Results suggest that, unlike on Earth, large-scale topographic and thermophysical variabilities play a leading role in driving sand fluxes on Mars.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/g45793.1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7241575PMC
May 2019

Aeolian dune sediment flux heterogeneity in Meridiani Planum, Mars.

Aeolian Res 2017 Jun 5;26:73-88. Epub 2016 Oct 5.

Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute, 189 Bernardo Ave, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA.

It is now known unambiguously that wind-driven bedform activity is occurring on the surface of Mars today, including early detections of active sand dunes in Meridiani Planum's Endeavour crater. Many of these reports are only based on a few sets of observations of relatively isolated bedforms and lack regional context. Here, we investigate aeolian activity across central Meridiani Planum and test the hypothesis that dune sites surrounding Endeavour crater are also active and part of region-wide sediment migration driven by northwesterly winds. All 13 dune fields investigated clearly showed evidence for activity and the majority exhibited dune migration (average rates of 0.6 m/Earth-year). Observations indicate substantial geographic and temporal heterogeneity of dune crest fluxes across the area and per site. Locations with multiple time steps indicate dune sand fluxes can vary by a factor of five, providing evidence for short periods of rapid migration followed by near-stagnation. In contrast, measurements at other sites are nearly identical, indicating that some dunes are in a steady-state as they migrate. The observed sediment transport direction was consistent with a regional northeasterly-to-northwesterly wind regime, revealing more variations than were appreciated from earlier, more localized studies. Craters containing shallow, degraded, flat-floored interiors tended to have dunes with high sediment fluxes/activity, whereas local kilometer-scale topographic obstructions (e.g., central peaks, yardangs) were found to be inversely correlated with dune mobility. Finally, the previous, more limited detections of dune activity in Endeavour crater have been shown to be representative of a broader, region-wide pattern of dune motion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aeolia.2016.07.004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5863747PMC
June 2017

The Geologic Exploration of the Bagnold Dune Field at Gale Crater by the Curiosity Rover.

J Geophys Res Planets 2017 Nov 1;122(11):2216-2222. Epub 2017 Nov 1.

Carl Sagan Center, SETI Institute, Mountain View, CA, USA.

The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity engaged in a monthlong campaign investigating the Bagnold dune field in Gale crater. What represents the first in situ investigation of a dune field on another planet has resulted in a number of discoveries. Collectively, the Curiosity rover team has compiled the most comprehensive survey of any extraterrestrial aeolian system visited to date with results that yield important insights into a number of processes, including sediment transport, bed form morphology and structure, chemical and physical composition of aeolian sand, and wind regime characteristics. These findings and more are provided in detail by the JGR-Planets Special Issue Curiosity's Bagnold Dunes Campaign, Phase I.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2017JE005455DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5857957PMC
November 2017

Global warming and climate forcing by recent albedo changes on Mars.

Nature 2007 Apr;446(7136):646-9

Carl Sagan Center, California 94035, USA.

For hundreds of years, scientists have tracked the changing appearance of Mars, first by hand drawings and later by photographs. Because of this historical record, many classical albedo patterns have long been known to shift in appearance over time. Decadal variations of the martian surface albedo are generally attributed to removal and deposition of small amounts of relatively bright dust on the surface. Large swaths of the surface (up to 56 million km2) have been observed to darken or brighten by 10 per cent or more. It is unknown, however, how these albedo changes affect wind circulation, dust transport and the feedback between these processes and the martian climate. Here we present predictions from a Mars general circulation model, indicating that the observed interannual albedo alterations strongly influence the martian environment. Results indicate enhanced wind stress in recently darkened areas and decreased wind stress in brightened areas, producing a positive feedback system in which the albedo changes strengthen the winds that generate the changes. The simulations also predict a net annual global warming of surface air temperatures by approximately 0.65 K, enhancing dust lifting by increasing the likelihood of dust devil generation. The increase in global dust lifting by both wind stress and dust devils may affect the mechanisms that trigger large dust storm initiation, a poorly understood phenomenon, unique to Mars. In addition, predicted increases in summertime air temperatures at high southern latitudes would contribute to the rapid and steady scarp retreat that has been observed in the south polar residual ice for the past four Mars years. Our results suggest that documented albedo changes affect recent climate change and large-scale weather patterns on Mars, and thus albedo variations are a necessary component of future atmospheric and climate studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature05718DOI Listing
April 2007