Astrogeology Science Center

The Science of Dunes: Where to Get Involved!

8 September 2017

During this past May, many of the world’s leading dune authorities met in St. George, Utah to attend the Fifth International Planetary Dunes Workshop. If you weren’t there--then you missed out on some fun. Scientists and students meet at this biannual workshop to engage in intensive discussion, to collaborate, and to explore observations of dunes and dune formation---not just the dunes on Earth, but Mars, Venus, and Titan also. Furthermore, these workshops always include absorbing field-trips! If you want to know more about dunes, want to get involved, collaborate and explore, mark your calendars for the 6th International Dunes Workshop – tentatively planned for May 2019. Watch this page for more information and a link to the abstracts, not yet available for the 2017 meeting. Meanwhile, below is a preview from Dr. Tim Titus’ abstract. Dr. Titus is a scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, as well as a co-convener of these enriching workshops.

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Coral pink sand dunes. Image Credit: Pixabay

Excerpt: Dune-like structures appear in the depths of Earth’s oceans, across its landscapes, and in the extremities of the Solar System and beyond. These structures rise up within the thick dense atmosphere of Venus and have also been found on a comet, with perhaps the most ephemeral atmosphere imaginable. Understanding how similar bedforms originate under such a wide range of environmental conditions is key to our comprehension of surface dynamics throughout the Solar System.

The 2017 International Planetary Dune Workshop at Dixie State University, the fifth in a series focusing on planetary dunes, brought together 65 terrestrial, marine, and planetary researchers, including students, from diverse backgrounds. The goal of fostering collaborative interdisciplinary research was accomplished through small-group interactions, both in formal meetings and through associated field trips. The 2017 workshop was unique due to the involvement of members of the terrestrial subaqueous research community; this involvement was key to the workshop’s success.