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Planetary Science Institute
My research has primarily focused upon water ice on Mars. For my doctoral dissertation under David Paige at UCLA, I modeled the morphological evolution of the Martian Polar Layered Deposits (PLD), specifically viscous relaxation of craters within the South PLD and the effects of orbital variations upon the relaxation and sublimation of North PLD troughs and scarps. A strong implication of my research is that the North PLD has recently been glacially active, a supposition that I will test by adapting a terrestrial glacial flow model to Martian conditions, with the help of collaborators Bruce Murray (Caltech), Shawn Marshall (Univ. of Calgary), and Michelle Koutnik (Univ. of Washington). After the North PLD modeling is complete, we intend to investigate glacial flow in the South PLD as well as the Tharsis montes.
I am also working with PSI's own Elizabeth Turtle, David Crown, and Frank Chuang, on viscous creep modeling of mid-latitude craters and debris aprons, simulations which we hope to be able to constrain using subsurface radar data from MARSIS and SHARAD.
One of the limitations of applying flow models to Mars is the unknown effects of dust upon water ice, which is of particularly importance in the Martian polar regions since the layering characteristic of the PLD is almost certainly due to a combination of water ice and dust. This fall, I will begin working with Bill Durham at Lawrence Livermore to make laboratory measurements of the rheological properties of dust-laden water ice undergoing grain size sensitive creep at Martian conditions.
In addition to improving our knowledge of the flow laws of dust-ice mixtures, we also intend to more firmly establish the minimum water ice content required to enable viscous creep, which is a key constraint for determining the maximum volatile inventory contained within unrelaxed Martian permafrost.