Radar and photoclinometric studies of wrinkle ridges on Mars

Thomas R. Watters, Mark S. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Earth-based radar altimetry and image derived photoclinometric profiles were analyzed to examine both the long- and short-wavelength topography associated with wrinkle ridges on Mars. Photoclinometrically derived elevation data across wrinkle ridges were evaluated to determine the sensitivity of profiles to two empirical photoclinometric parameters, the horizontal digital number (HDN) and the scattered light value (SLV). The photoclinometric profiles are extremely sensitive to small variations in HDN. The sense of slope of a profile can be completely reversed over a range in HDN of as little as ± 1. Comparably small variations in the SLV have relatively minor effects on the photoclinometrically derived elevations. The existence of elevation offsets from one side of the ridge to the other, reported in previous photoclinometric studies of martian wrinkles, were not confirmed through photoclinometry. In addition, no evidence of elevation offsets were found in Earth-based radar altimetry profiles across wrinkle ridges. In order to more accurately model wrinkle ridge topography, we controlled photoclinometrically derived elevations with long-wavelength topography obtained from the radar altimetry. The results of this study do not support kinematic models for the origin of planetary wrinkle ridges that involve deeply rooted thrust faults which separate crustal blocks at different elevations. A kinematic model involving buckling of shallow crustal layers into concentric folds that close, leading to the development of thrust faults, is consistent with wrinkle ridge morphology and terrestrial analogs. Recent geophysical studies of terrestrial analogs and the influence of shallow subsurface structures, particularly buried craters, on the localization of many wrinkle ridges on Mars suggest that thrust faults associated with the ridges are confined to the ridged plains material and do not extend into the lithosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number97JE00411
Pages (from-to)10889-10903
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE5
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Detector saturation
  • Detector voltage switching
  • Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization
  • Microchannel plate detector
  • Quadrupole ion trap
  • Simulation
  • Time-of-flight
  • Trajectory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Environmental Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Radar and photoclinometric studies of wrinkle ridges on Mars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this