Geophysical Research Letters

The first terrestrial analogue to Martian dust devil tracks found in Ténéré Desert, Niger



[1] The first example of terrestrial dust devil tracks is presented in this paper. Tracks found in Ténéré Desert, Niger are formed by transient events not related to regional winds. Compared to the Martian tracks, Ténéré tracks are generally longer and show higher average density. We interpreted these differences as due to different intensities of the dust devil vortices combined with different surface properties. We also suggest that grain size distribution and sorting of surface material is crucial to allow track formation. Major surface changes of Ténéré tracks have been observed in selected areas over a time span of 2 years, confirming the very low preservation potential of the tracks. However, no clear evidence for seasonal variations has been found on the available dataset. The Ténéré Desert represents a unique site to study the formation and evolution of these peculiar features and to compare their behavior on other planets.