Saturday, March 19, 2016

Material transport map of Titan: The fate of dunes

Material transport map of Titan: The fate of dunes


Malaska et al


Using SAR data from Cassini’s RADAR instrument, we examined the orientations of three terrain units on Titan, bright lineated plains, streak-like plains, and linear dunes. From the overall integrated pattern of their orientation, we were able to determine Titan’s global material transport vectors. The analysis indicates that, in both the northern and southern hemispheres, materials from 0 to 35 deg latitude are transported poleward to a belt centred at roughly 35 deg. Materials from 60 to 35 deg latitude are transported equatorward to the belt at roughly 35 deg. Comparison with the global topographical gradient (Lorenz, R.D. et al. [2013]. Icarus 225, 367–377) suggests that fluvial transport is not the dominant process for material transport on Titan, or that it is at least overprinted with another transport mechanism. Our results are consistent with aeolian transport being the dominant mechanism in the equatorial and mid-latitude zones.

The zone at 35 deg is thus the ultimate sink for materials from the equator to low polar latitudes; materials making up the equatorial dunes will be transported to the latitude 35-deg belts. Only plains units are observed at latitudes of ∼35 deg; dunes and materials with the spectral characteristics of dunes are not observed at these latitudes. This observation suggests that either dune materials are converted or modified into plains units or that the margins of dunes are transport limited.

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