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Alluvial and fluvial fans on Saturn’s moon Titan reveal processes, materials and regional geology

By
Jani Radebaugh
Jani Radebaugh
1
Brigham Young University, S-389 ESC, Provo, UT 84601, USA
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Dario Ventra
Dario Ventra
2
Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Ralph D. Lorenz
Ralph D. Lorenz
3
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 20723, USA
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Tom Farr
Tom Farr
4
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
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Randy Kirk
Randy Kirk
5
US Geological Survey, Astrogeology Division, Flagstaff AZ 86001, USA
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Alex Hayes
Alex Hayes
6
Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
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Michael J. Malaska
Michael J. Malaska
4
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
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Sam Birch
Sam Birch
6
Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
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Zac Yung-Chun Liu
Zac Yung-Chun Liu
7
School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
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Jonathan Lunine
Jonathan Lunine
6
Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
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Jason Barnes
Jason Barnes
8
Department of Physics, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
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Alice Le Gall
Alice Le Gall
9
LATMOS Observatoire de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (OVSQ), Paris, France
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Rosaly Lopes
Rosaly Lopes
4
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
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Ellen Stofan
Ellen Stofan
10
Proxemy Research, Greenbelt, MD 20770, USA
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Steve Wall
Steve Wall
4
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
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Philippe Paillou
Philippe Paillou
11
Observatoire Aquitain des Sciences de l’Univers, Universite de Bordeaux, Floirac, France
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Published:
January 01, 2018

Abstract

Fans, landforms that record the storage and transport of sediment from uplands to depositional basins, are found on Saturn’s moon Titan, a body of significantly different process rates and material compositions from Earth. Images obtained by the Cassini spacecraft’s synthetic aperture radar reveal morphologies, roughness, textural patterns and other properties consistent with fan analogues on Earth also viewed by synthetic aperture radar. The observed fan characteristics on Titan reveal some regions of high relative relief and others with gentle slopes over hundreds of kilometres, exposing topographic variations and influences on fan formation. There is evidence for a range of particle sizes across proximal to distal fan regions, from c. 2 cm or more to fine-grained, which can provide details on sedimentary processes. Some features are best described as alluvial fans, which implies their proximity to high-relief source areas, while others are more likely to be fluvial fans, drawing from larger catchment areas and frequently characterized by more prolonged runoff events. The presence of fans corroborates the vast liquid storage capacity of the atmosphere and the resultant episodic behaviour. Fans join the growing list of landforms on Titan derived from atmospheric and fluvial processes similar to those on Earth, strengthening comparisons between these two planetary bodies.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Geology and Geomorphology of Alluvial and Fluvial Fans: Terrestrial and Planetary Perspectives
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS

D. Ventra
D. Ventra
Utrecht University, the Netherlands
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L. E. Clarke
L. E. Clarke
University of Gloucestershire, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
440
ISBN electronic:
9781786203809
Publication date:
January 01, 2018

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