Pattern formation gains interest in the Earth sciences
Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
©1999. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 80, Issue 3, page 27, 19 January 1999
How to Cite
1999), Pattern formation gains interest in the Earth sciences, Eos Trans. AGU, 80(3), 27–27, doi:10.1029/99EO00021.(
- Issue published online: 3 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
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A huge diversity of intricate patterns can be found in our environment, ranging from zoned crystals, sand ripples, and columnar basalts to multiringed meteorite impact craters.
Fundamental concepts of pattern formation in the Earth sciences can be traced back through time from Jean Perrin to Mandelbrot, and their studies of the lengths of coastlines. Similar concepts of fractal dimensions, multifractals, and diffusion-limited aggregation models can be applied to the study of many phenomena including the random walk of molecules in gases and liquids, avalanche dynamics, three-dimensional basin modeling, salt tectonics, and the spontaneous self-organization of sand grains. The largest terrestrial pattern is that of the Earth itself, forming from an undifferentiated solar dust cloud into the well-organized Earth of today (P. Ortoleva).