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Main Title: Eolian erosion of polygons in the Atacama Desert as a proxy for hyper-arid environments on Earth and beyond
Author(s): Sager, Christof
Airo, Alessandro
Arens, Felix L.
Schulze-Makuch, Dirk
Type: Article
Abstract: Polygonal networks occur on various terrestrial and extraterrestrial surfaces holding valuable information on the pedological and climatological conditions under which they develop. However, unlike periglacial polygons that are commonly used as an environmental proxy, the information that polygons in the hyper-arid Atacama Desert can provide is little understood. To promote their use as a proxy, we investigated a polygonal network within an inactive channel that exhibits uncommonly diverse surface morphologies and mineral compositions, using geochemical and remote sensing techniques. Our findings show that the polygons belong to a continuous network of the same genetic origin. Their differences result from post-formational differential eolian erosion up to 50 cm depth, exposing indurated subsurface horizons rich in sulfate or nitrate and chloride. Their location in an ancient channel could lead to the misinterpretation of fluvial polygon erosion, however, we find no such signs but evidence for aqueous resurfacing of microtopography by fog and minimal rainwater infiltration. Our findings extend the use of polygons as proxies in the Atacama Desert, indicating saline soils and hyper-arid conditions. We conclude that this example of polygon erosion can guide future polygon research, especially regarding the use of erosional surfaces on Earth and beyond to gain valuable subsurface insights.
Subject(s): Atacama Desert
patterned grounds
Eolian erosion
Issue Date: 20-Jul-2022
Date Available: 22-Jul-2022
Language Code: en
DDC Class: 550 Geowissenschaften, Geologie
Sponsor/Funder: TU Berlin, Open-Access-Mittel – 2022
Journal Title: Scientific Reports
Publisher: SpringerNature
Volume: 12
Article Number: 12394
Publisher DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-16404-y
EISSN: 2045-2322
TU Affiliation(s): Fak. 2 Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften » Zentrum für Astronomie und Astrophysik
Appears in Collections:Technische Universität Berlin » Publications

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