Vast Deserts on Mars
- Identify wind current directions on Earth and Mars.
- Explain the formation of certain dune morphologies.
- Use Google Earth to identify changing paleocurrent direction, bounding surfaces, and their potential to be observed/preserved on Mars.
Context for Use
This learning module is meant for adaptation in an introductory earth science course and/or planetary science course. The In-Class Activities can be easily adapted for homework when desired.
Description and Teaching Materials
Compiled In-Class Activities and Homework
- In-Class Activity 1: Sandbox Dunes
- In-Class Activity 2: Martian Ventifacts
Teaching Notes and Tips
- For larger classes (>20 students) you can either create your own Sandbox Dune demonstration or use the Video demonstration (see Resources).
- In Homework 1: students will need a clear understanding of how dunes and dune processes are recorded in the rock record (marching away from you, toward you, paleocurrent direction etc.).
- You will often integrate the Explain and Explore sections of the In-Class Activities. Interact with the students as they "explore" and help them define terms/principles (Ex: Sandbox Dunes).
Methods of assessment are within each individual In-Class Activity and Homework.
References and Resources
- Image file: Vast Deserts on Mars (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 7.8MB Oct31 12)
- Antarctica Ventifacts (image to the right)
- Sand Box Dune Video (MP4 Video 28MB Mar11 14)
- Grotzinger, J.P. et al., 2005. Stratigraphy and sedimentology of a dry to wet eolian depositional system, Burns formation, Meridiani Planum, Mars. Earth & Planetary Science Letters, v. 240, p.11-72.
- Burns Formation PanCam Sol 288 (link down)