Planetary Science Seminar
Yardangs are wind-shaped, streamlined ridges found in many of the most arid deserts of Earth. In China they are famous for the eerie, ghost-like sounds the wind produces as it flows through them, earning the desert a reputation for harboring demons and malevolent spirits. Yardangs are also common on Mars, where they form in abundance in the friable layered deposits of the Medusae Fossae Formation and Arabia Terra, and around the summit of Mount Sharp. Yardangs can range in height from several tens of centimeters to more than a hundred meters, and in length from the meter scale up to tens of kilometers. Yardangs are shaped like the hull of a ship, and groups of yardangs are known as "fleets". The major parameters that control yardang morphology are often contested based on examples from widely separated field sites. In this seminar, I will present the variety of yardang morphologies across the Earth and Mars and discuss how contrasting geomorphological agents contribute to the diversity of their forms. I will also discuss how the material properties and geometries of yardangs could be used by future Martian explorers as a structural and civil engineering resource.