Planetary Dunes Workshop: A Record of Climate Change,  April 29-May 2, 2008, Alamogordo, New Mexico



Lunar and Planetary Institute
NASA’s Mars Exploration Program

Timothy Titus
   U. S. Geological Survey
Rose Hayward
   U. S. Geological Survey
Mary Bourke
   Planetary Science Institute
Nick Lancaster
   Desert Research Institute
Lori Fenton
   Carl Sagan Center


The Planetary Dunes Workshop:  A Record of Climate Change will be held April 29– May 2, 2008, at the Willie Estrada Memorial Civic Center, 800 E. First Street, Alamogordo, NM, 88310. The workshop will feature a one-day field trip to White Sands National Monument. A block of sleeping rooms is reserved for workshop participants at the Comfort Inn and Suites, 1020 S. White Sand Boulevard, Alamogordo, NM, 88310, at a special rate of $70.00 per night. Comfort Inn and Suites is within walking distance to the civic center and provides a complimentary daily breakfast. Hotel room amenities include free high-speed Internet access, free local calls, satellite/cable television, microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, and hair dryer. To reserve your room at the special rate, please call the hotel at 1-800-255-5061 and request the Planetary Dunes Workshop group rate. This rate is available until April 7, 2008. After that, rooms will be subject to availability and rate increase. This rate is not available via the hotel website.


Date:  April 29–May 2, 2008
Location:  Alamogordo, New Mexico


Sand dunes and other aeolian bedforms are a prominent part of landscapes shaped by wind action on several bodies in our solar system. Despite the three decades of study of these features, many questions regarding their composition and sediment sources, morphology, age, origins, and dynamics under present and past climatic conditions remain unanswered.

Recently acquired data from orbiters and rovers together with innovative approaches using terrestrial analogs and numerical models are beginning to provide new insights into martian sand dunes, as well as aeolian bedforms on other terrestrial planetary bodies such as Titan.

The Planetary Dunes Workshop will consist of 30-minute invited keynote presentations, 15-minute contributed oral presentations, time for extended discussion, two dedicated poster sessions, and a one-day field trip to dunes at White Sands National Monument. The field trip will be led by researchers active in the area and will be an integral part of the workshop. Each oral presentation will be followed by a 15-minute discussion period, encouraging interaction among attendees by providing a generous amount of time for questions, clarification, and suggestions.

The workshop will bring together researchers with interests in planetary dunes from diverse backgrounds in image analysis, modeling, and terrestrial analog studies. A small group setting will facilitate intensive discussion of problems and issues in an attempt to identify the most promising approaches to understanding these dune systems and to developing a collaborative interdisciplinary research agenda.

    Manuscript submissions are invited for a special issue of the journal Geomorphology on planetary dunes and dune fields. Please note that papers must be original, of the highest scientific quality, and the topic should clearly fall within the scope of the special issue. The guest editors will be Mary Bourke, Lori Fenton, and Nick Lancaster. The preliminary guidelines are available as a link on the Consortium website. Please contact Mary Bourke if you intend to submit a paper so that manuscript page limits for the special issue can be determined. The deadline for manuscript submission is June 30, 2008.

The workshop will kick off with a welcome reception on Monday, April 28, from 5:00–7:00 p.m. at the Comfort Inn and Suites. Technical sessions will begin Tuesday, April 29, at 8:30 a.m., at the Willie Estrada Memorial Civic Center.

Monday, April 28
   5:00–7:00 p.m.

Evening Welcome Reception at Comfort Inn and Suites
Tuesday, April 29
   8:00 a.m.–6:30 p.m.
Oral and Poster Presentations

Wednesday, April 30
   8:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m.

Field Trip to White Sands National Monument
Thursday, May 1
   8:00 a.m.–6:30 p.m.
Oral and Poster Presentations
Friday, May 2
   8:30–11:30 a.m.
Oral Presentations


Invited keynote presentations are scheduled to allow 30 minutes for speaking. Contributed presentations are scheduled to allow 15 minutes for speaking. Audio-visual equipment will include an LCD projector and a Sony Vaio PC laptop computer equipped with the following software:  Windows XP operating system, Microsoft Power Point 2003, and Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0. You may bring your presentation on a CD-ROM or USB memory drive to use with the meeting room PC, or you may connect your own laptop computer to the LCD projector for your presentation.


Two dedicated poster sessions are scheduled during the lunch hour on Tuesday, April 29, and Thursday, May 1. Authors must be present to discuss their posters at their scheduled session. Posters will remain on display throughout the workshop. Each poster display space is 44" x 44". Posters should be designed to attach to the panel with push pins, which will be provided.


The full-day field trip is scheduled on Wednesday, April 30, 2008. Activities will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the convention center.  David Bustos, Ryan Ewing, and Gary Kocurek will present a 60–90-minute overview of White Sands National Monument, the evolution of the dune field, and the various sites that will be visited. Vans will depart from the convention center and convoy to the park. The first stop will be in the central dune field where within a kilometer walk, participants will see the crescentic dunes, their surface processes, and plan-views of their accumulated cross-strata. Nearby, a bulldozer has cut a cross-section across a dune, allowing access to the internal stratification. Participants will also see some nearby granule ripples.  Boxed lunches will be served at an outdoor picnic area with picnic benches, shade, and toilet facilities (i.e., port-o-pots). After lunch, vans will travel to within 2 kilometers of Lake Lucero. On this afternoon hike participants will view the currently active gypsum-precipitating playa, the deflationary flats, dune initiation downwind of the playa, and the upwind portion of the parabolic dune field. Finally, in the late afternoon light, vans will drive to a look-out tower (called NE30) for a panoramic view of the whole playa and dune field system. 

Expected Weather and Desert Conditions:
The average high for this time of year is 80°F (27°C), but temperatures can exceed 100°F (38°C). The low temperatures are typically in the 40°sF (5–8°C). The sand is extremely bright and can not only cause “sand-blindness,” but can cause sunburn through light fabrics such as t-shirts. Wear good sunglasses with UV protection! Strong winds will create blowing sand and dust. Please consider wearing glasses as opposed to contact lenses. Because of the heat and low humidity, it is easy to become dehydrated without realizing it. Everyone should be prepared to carry ~2 liters of water for the afternoon hike.

Suggested Packing List:

  • A way to carry 2 liters of water — bottled water will be provided
  • Backpack
  • Hat with a brim
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking boots or shoes
  • Neck scarf or towel
  • Light-colored long pants and long-sleeve shirt
  • Light jacket for the morning

    The closest airports to Alamogordo are El Paso International Airport (~85 miles) and Albuquerque International Sunport  (~210 miles). Participants who wish to ride share from an airport to Alamogordo can post a message on the ride share message board. Driving directions and shuttle service details can be found on either airport’s web pages referenced above.


A fee of $175.00 for professionals and $125.00 for students will be assessed each participant to cover workshop services including a welcome reception, lunches, morning and afternoon coffee breaks, field trip transportation, and a program and abstract volume. The NASA Mars Program office has generously sponsored other workshop costs to keep the registration fee affordable. You must preregister and prepay by April 11, 2008, to attend the workshop.


Please return the downloadable registration form with your payment or use the electronic registration form if paying by credit card. Cancellations with requests for refunds will be accepted through April 22. A $25.00 processing fee will be charged on all cancellations.


Registration Deadline:
   Friday, April 11, 2008



For further information regarding the format and scientific objectives of the workshop, contact

Timothy Titus
U.S. Geological Survey
Phone: 928-556-7201

For further information regarding workshop logistics, announcements, and accommodations, contact

Elizabeth Wagganer
Lunar and Planetary Institute
Phone: 281-486-2164
Fax: 281-486-2125

For further information regarding registration, contact

Linda Tanner
Lunar and Planetary Institute
Phone: 281-486-2142
Fax: 281-486-2125

April 7, 2008  
Deadline for hotel reservations at special rate
April 11, 2008  

Deadline for workshop registration
* Please note there will be NO ONSITE REGISTRATION

April 29–May 2, 2008  
Planetary Dunes Workshop:
A Record of Climate Change


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