PARTICLE SIZE DISTRIBUTIONS OF GLACIAL GRINDING EXPERIMENTS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PAST MARTIAN CLIMATE
We investigated the PSDs produced by simulated glacial grinding of basalt rocks as Martian analogs. Angular styluses of basalt rock were cut from whole rock, weighted to replicate a contact force of 200-300 N, and abraded across a basalt slab representing bedrock. Sediments from the grinding experiments were collected and measured using a Laser Particle Size Analyzer (LPSA). Preliminary results indicate the dust-sized (<63 µm) sediments produced exhibit modes of roughly 20 µm. The volume of coarse dust produced exceeding 5 µm in size is significantly greater than the volume of dust below 5 µm.
If, as others have suggested, Mars hosted past glaciers accompanied by subglacial grinding, and those rocks had similar compositions to our analogs, the products of glacial grinding would include more coarse (>5 µm) dust than fine (<5 µm). Given that coarse dust is thought to contribute an atmospheric warming effect, compared with a cooling influence from fine dust; our results suggest that dust from glacial grinding of basalt rocks might have contributed a warming effect on past Martian climates.