Longitudinal ridges imparted by high-speed granular flow mechanisms in martian landslides

Giulia Magnarini, Thomas M. Mitchell, Peter M. Grindrod, Liran Goren, Harrison H. Schmitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The presence of longitudinal ridges documented in long runout landslides across our solar system is commonly associated with the existence of a basal layer of ice. However, their development, the link between their occurrence and the emplacement mechanisms of long runout landslides, and the necessity of a basal ice layer remain poorly understood. Here, we analyse the morphometry of longitudinal ridges of a martian landslide and show that the wavelength of the ridges is 2–3 times the average thickness of the landslide deposit, a unique scaling relationship previously reported in ice-free rapid granular flow experiments. We recognize en-echelon features that we interpret as kinematic indicators, congruent with experimentally-measured transverse velocity gradient. We suggest that longitudinal ridges should not be considered as unequivocal evidence for presence of ice, rather as inevitable features of rapid granular sliding material, that originate from a mechanical instability once a kinematic threshold is surpassed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4711
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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