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Numerical simulation of debris flows over sand dunes on Mars

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Miyamoto (Lunar & Planetary Lab, University of Arizona)

Observations of flow-like features in high-resolution MOC images suggest that liquid water may have been present on Mars in the recent past. Because water is typically instable under current climatic conditions, several theories have been proposed to explain these features, including internal water seepage, meltwater flows from external origin, CO2 density flows, and dry particle flows. Among many flow-like features, debris flows over sand dunes found in the Russell Crater at 54.5S 12.7E are crucial because they are depositional features with clear symmetric levees. I will present a numerical approach to derive additional constraints on the mechanics and origin of these features. Preliminary calculations shows that these features are formed by low viscosity flows with viscosity lower than 1000Pa s or flows with a small overall supply rate (or accumulation rate) lower than 0.5m^3/s. I will also discuss advantages of my depth-averaged Finite Volume Method code to calculate the morphological changes of viscous fluid and its potential applicability to other flows including lava flows, ice flows, and rock glaciers.

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