Giant mounds inside Mars craters were built by winds, climate change

mount-sharpNew research has found that wind carved massive mounds of more than a mile high on Mars over billions of years. Their location helps pin down when water on the Red Planet dried up during a global climate change event.

figure-2The new study (“Carving intracrater layered deposits with wind on Mars”) was published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. [The link provides open access to the entire paper for 60 days starting March 31.]

The findings show the importance of wind in shaping the Martian landscape, a force that, on Earth, is overpowered by other processes, said Mackenzie Day, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences and lead author of the study.

“On Mars there are no plate tectonics, and there’s no liquid water, so you don’t have anything to overprint that signature and over billions of years you get these mounds, which speaks to how much geomorphic change you can really instigate with just wind,” Day said. “Wind could never do this on Earth because water acts so much faster, and tectonics act so much faster.” [More at links]

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