Sediment volume in the north polar sand seas of Mars


  • N. Lancaster,

  • R. Greeley


Data from studies of the cross-sectional area of terrestrial transverse dunes have been combined with maps of dune morphometry derived from Viking orbiter images to generate new estimates of sediment thickness and dune sediment volume in the north polar sand seas of Mars. A relationship between dune spacing and equivalent sediment thickness (EST) was developed from field data on Namibian and North American dunes and was applied to data on dune spacing and dune cover measured on Viking orbiter images to generate maps of dune sediment thickness for Martian north polar sand seas. There are four major sand seas in the north polar region of Mars, covering an area of 6.8×105 km2. Equivalent sediment thickness ranges between 0.5 and 6.1 m with a mean of 1.8 m. The sand seas contain a total of 1158 km3 of dune sediment, which may have been derived by erosion of polar layered deposits and concentrated in its present location by winds that change direction seasonally.