Yardangs on Mars: Evidence of recent wind erosion


  • A. Wesley Ward


Yardangs are streamlined erosional wind forms, similar in form to inverted boat hulls, that in terrestrial deserts range from meters to kilometers in length. On Mars the best examples are seen in the equatorial region. In the Amazonis region, hundreds of ridges and sawtooth-edged mesas have been wind sculptured in layered rocks. Individual ridges are tens of kilometers long with intervening valleys nearly 1 km wide. The wind-stripped surface seems to be relatively young and therefore must be easily erodible. Possible lithologies include ignimbrites, mudflows, or lithified regolith. Other wind-sculpted features occur in the Aeolis region, in Ares Valles, and in the Iapygia region. White Rock, a light-colored plateau inside a crater, is interpreted to be a yardang cluster eroded in a deposit inside the host crater. White Rock may be a jointed, wind-eroded pyroclastic deposit. Yardangs on Mars, especially when they are sculpted in young geologic units, demonstrate that much of the observed eolian erosion is recent. Yardang azimuths often are not parallel with wind streak directions, indicating that the yardangs were formed by different (older or weaker) winds from those that formed the streaks.