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Experiments on sublimating carbon dioxide ice and implications for contemporary surface processes on Mars.

Mc Keown, L. E. and Bourke, M. C. and McElwaine, J. N. (2017) 'Experiments on sublimating carbon dioxide ice and implications for contemporary surface processes on Mars.', Scientific reports., 7 (1). p. 14181.

Abstract

Carbon dioxide is Mars’ primary atmospheric constituent and is an active driver of Martian surface evolution. CO2 ice sublimation mechanisms have been proposed for a host of features that form in the contemporary Martian climate. However, there has been very little experimental work or quantitative modelling to test the validity of these hypotheses. Here we present the results of the first laboratory experiments undertaken to investigate if the interaction between sublimating CO2 ice blocks and a warm, porous, mobile regolith can generate features similar in morphology to those forming on Martian dunes today. We find that CO2 sublimation can mobilise grains to form (i) pits and (ii) furrows. We have documented new detached pits at the termini of linear gullies on Martian dunes. Based on their geomorphic similarity to the features observed in our laboratory experiments, and on scaling arguments, we propose a new hypothesis that detached pits are formed by the impact of granular jets generated by sublimating CO2. We also study the erosion patterns formed underneath a sublimating block of CO2 ice and demonstrate that these resemble furrow patterns on Mars, suggesting similar formation mechanisms.

Item Type:Article
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-14132-2
Publisher statement:Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Date accepted:09 October 2017
Date deposited:07 November 2017
Date of first online publication:27 October 2017
Date first made open access:07 November 2017

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