Comparison of the mineral composition of the sediment found in two Mars dunefields: Ogygis Undae and Gale crater – three distinct endmembers identified

1Heather Charles, 2Timothy Titus, 2Rosalyn Hayward, 2Christopher Edwards, 3Caitlin Ahrens
Earth and Planetary Science Letters 458, 152-160 Link to Article [http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2016.10.022]
1USGS/NAU, United States
2USGS, United States
3University of Arkansas, United States
Copyright Elsevier

The composition of two dune fields, Ogygis Undae and the NE–SW trending dune field in Gale crater (the “Bagnold Dune Field” and “Western Dune Field”), were analyzed using thermal emission spectra from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) and the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS). The Gale crater dune field was used as a baseline as other orbital compositional analyses have been conducted, and in situ sampling results will soon be available.

Results from unmixing thermal emission spectra showed a spatial variation between feldspar mineral abundances and pyroxene mineral abundances in Ogygis Undae. Other datasets, including nighttime thermal inertia values, also showed variation throughout the dune field. One explanation proposed for this variation is a bimodal distribution of two sand populations. This distribution is seen in some terrestrial dune fields.

The two dune fields varied in both mineral types present and in uniformity of composition. These differences point to different source lithologies and different distances travelled from source material. Examining these differences further will allow for a greater understanding of aeolian processes on Mars.

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