Mars for Earthlings > Lesson Modules > In-Class Activity 2-Eberswalde Delta Mars

Eberswalde Delta Mars

In-Class Activity 2- Surface Water_MFE

Julia Kahmann-Robinson PhD, University of Utah Department of Geology & Geophysics


Become acquainted with deltas on Earth and apply the principles of delta-formation to Mars images. Students will be able to create an informed hypothesis as to whether or not deltas are present on Mars.


  1. Acquaint students with delta formation previous to this exercise or as a simultaneous component to your teaching.
  2. Research and present deltas found here on Earth to serve as analog comparisons. The Engage section will provide an opportunity, albeit small, for students to see an analog.


  1. Ask students the following question to start off the Activity: When you hear the word "delta" what do you think of?
    • List ideas on board
    • Discuss each one as it applies
  2. To test current understanding, share with students the following images and have them identify which is a "delta" (see the Image file in the Sculpting Surfaces/Resources for images).
    • Horseshoe Bend Colorado
    • Lake Powell
    • Amazon Delta
    • Congo River


  1. View the following video from click on the "+ View Video" link in blue:
  2. As students view the video, ask them to write down the evidence cited by scientists that this is a delta on Mars.
  3. Ask students to compare and contrast their Mars findings with Earth-based observations of the following deltas: Mississippi River and Colorado River (dry).

    • You may use a similar Table Format provided in this learning module (Lesson 12: Student Version docx (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 31kB Oct16 12)) if you plan to have students turn in their observations as a result of this In-Class Activity
    • See the Image file in References and Resources for images.


Overall Geometry

What body is/was it emptying into?


Eberswalde Crater, Mars

Mississippi River, Earth


  1. As students complete the Explore activity, discuss concepts such as delta lobe switching and theforces creating different delta geometries (bird's foot vs. cuspate).
  2. As appropriate share the tripartite classification (consult Bhattacharya & Giosan, 2003 References and Resources) of deltas and which would be more applicable on Mars (Ehlmann et al., 2008 References and Resources), if any.


  1. Search and discover other deltas on Earth via Google Image search or the like (HINT: search major river systems). Have students determine which delta on Earth is most similar to Eberswalde Delta on Mars. Are any a good match? Ask students to explain why or why not.
  2. Ask students how might the students conduct "tests" on Mars to determine whether or not a delta exists? (HINT: remember that deltas form where sediment is dispersed into a standing body or former standing body of water).


  1. If you use this activity as homework, have students submit the chart and associated questions and assess their answers.
  2. If you use the Elaborate section, the tests students come up with should indicate their grasp of delta processes.