North-Central Section - 39th Annual Meeting (May 19–20, 2005)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


FRISTAD, Kirsten E., Geology, Macalester College, 1600 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 555105, SHARPTON, Virgil L., Geophysical Institute, Univ of Alaska Fairbanks, 903 Koyukuk Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99775 and EICHELBERGER, John, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Univ of Alaska, Natural Sciences Building, 900 Yukon Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99775,

Recent NASA missions to Mars have returned increasingly detailed imagery of surface features, motivating the effort to find analogue features on Earth that can be studied to understand processes on Mars. Currently recognized Martian analogues on Earth include arid regions of Antarctica, Australia, Chile, the Mojave desert, and Devon Island in Northern Canada. Workers in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in Katmai National Park, Alaska have commented that this area has a Martian-like appearance; prompting our study of the landscape as a possible Martian analogue.

In 1912 Katmai Volcano and Novarupta Dome on the Alaska Peninsula experienced a catastrophic eruption that covered 120 km2 in up to two hundred meters of pumice and ash. Now designated as a National Park, the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes (VTTS) is still a barren volcanic landscape devoid of vegetation nearly a hundred years later. On the University of Alaska, Fairbanks 2004 International Volcanology Field School trip, digital images were taken of geologic features in the VTTS similar to those seen on Mars. Features of interest include pyroclastic bedding, phreatic crater deposits, wind abrasion of boulders, volcanically induced outburst flood deposits and dust devils. These Martian-like features were then compared to criteria used to establish current Martian analogue sites, allowing an assessment of the VTTS as a potential analogue. Initial results suggest the VTTS is a good geomorphic analogue and warrants future detailed study to understand Martian surface processes.