Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


Professor Renno discusses Martian sand slides with C&En

Posted: May 6, 2016

Professor Renno discusses Martian sand slides with C&En Photo: Slope Streaks in Acheron Fossae on Mars (Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA)

Chemical & Engineering News recently published an article titled, “Boiling water may cause Martian sand slides.”

The article explains that for years, scientists have wondered whether flowing water or avalanches of dry soil are forming the streaks that appear on the slopes of Mars.

“Now an international team led by Marion Massé at the University of Nantes shows that both these dry and wet processes may be at work,” the article states. “In lab experiments that recreate the thin atmosphere of Mars, the researchers found that the low-temperature boiling of liquid water sends soil particles jumping down hillsides, creating a combination water-sand slide.”

Professor Nilton Renno told C&En that most of the liquid under Mars-like conditions percolating downslope, rather than forming a surface liquid film, has important implications for understanding Martian terrains.

To read the full article, please visit

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