Assessing the Martian surface distribution of aeolian sand using a Mars general circulation model

F. S. Anderson, R. Greeley, P. Xu, E. Lo, D. G. Blumberg, R. M. Haberle, J. R. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A sand transport model using White's [1979] sand flux equation and the Mars general circulation model [Pollack et al., 1990] was developed to understand the erosional sources, transport pathways, and depositional sinks of windblown sand on Mars. An initially uniform distribution of sand (4 mm over the entire surface) is regionally transported based on wind stress, saltation threshold, and percentage of topographic trapping. Results are consistent with the observed polar and Hellespontus dunes and Christensen's [1986] modeled block size distribution, but only for an extremely low saltation threshold (0.024 N/m2). Low thresholds generally result in transport of sand-sized particles originating in the northern mid latitudes to the north pole, and transport from the northern lower latitudes to the southern hemisphere. Our results indicate that the polar dune fields could form in 50,000 years, consistent with the active polar dunes and lack of longitudinal dunes observed on the surface of Mars.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1999JE900024
Pages (from-to)18991-19002
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue numberE8
StatePublished - 25 Aug 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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