2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM


LANG, N.P., Department of Geological Sciences, University of Minnesota Duluth, 229 Heller Hall, 1114 Kirby Drive, Duluth, MN 55812, lang0604@tc.umn.edu

Spacecraft-collected remotely sensed datasets provide an excellent vehicle for illustrating and conveying geologic principles and scientific reasoning to students. A particularly useful dataset includes the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery (75 m/pixel) from the NASA Magellan mission to Venus. I highlight two specific ‘field' areas in the Magellan SAR imagery that may serve useful in amplifying the instruction of various basic geologic principles and concepts. Although I emphasize only two regions, any area on Venus is useful. Area 1, Mahuea Tholus (35S, 165E), is a ~100 km diameter volcano located within Venus' expansive lowlands; the resolution of the SAR imagery allows clear delineation of numerous volcanic structures including pahoehoe fabric, pressure ridges, a source vent, and channels. Area 2, Barbale Dorsa (14N, 141E), is a broad topographic warp that hosts a penetratively fractured terrain embayed, and locally covered by, a mechanically thin low backscatter material sourced from numerous presumably volcanic shield edifices. Although SAR is a 2-D dataset, geologic mapping of the SAR image for each area allows for elucidation of 3-D geometries and provides a critical first step in allowing students to address fundamental geologic questions and practice scientific reasoning. Specific exercises involving these field areas are limitless and easily integrated into petrology/volcanology, geomorphology, structure, field methods, and introductory courses and labs to aid understanding of igneous and volcanic processes, basic mapping methods and relations, temporal (including cross-cutting) relations, stratigraphy, and stress/strain. The clarity of the SAR data makes it also easily useable in the K-12 grade levels for teaching basic science lessons. Further, the extreme surface conditions on Venus (~450 C, ~100 bars) add a unique twist in geologic studies and emphasize the universality of fundamental geologic principles. Mission data for several extraterrestrial bodies is readily downloadable at the USGS Map-a-Planet website (http://pdsmaps.wr.usgs.gov/maps.html). Adobe PhotoshopTM and/or IllustratorTM drawing programs will easily enhance and invert images to aid in interpretation; merging Magellan SAR and altimetry data using Photoshop will create synthetic stereo views.