HiRISE: Summit dunes and their sand sources

ESP_054082_1765The ultimate origin of the sediment that forms Martian dunes has long been debated. While sand dunes on Earth are primarily sourced by quartz-bearing components of granitic continental crust, it’s often suggested that sand on Mars derives from eroded volcanic flows or sedimentary deposits, but exact sources are often vague.

This image reveals a unique situation where this small dune field occurs along the summit of the large 1-mile-tall mound near the center of Juventae Chasma. The layered mound slopes are far too steep for dunes to climb, and bedform sand is unlikely to come from purely airborne material. Instead, the mound’s summit displays several dark-toned, mantled deposits that are adjacent to the dunes and appear to be eroding into fans of sandy material. [More at link]

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