Second International Planetary Dunes Workshop: Planetary Analogs - Integrating Models, Remote Sensing, and Field Data  May 18-21, 2010  Alamosa, Colorado




Sponsored By
Lunar and Planetary Institute
NASA's Mars Exploration Program

Timothy Titus,
   U.S. Geological Survey

Science Organizing

Timothy Titus,
   U.S. Geological Survey
Mary Bourke,
   Planetary Science Institute
Lori Fenton,
   NASA Ames Research Center
Rose Hayward,
   U.S. Geological Survey
Nick Lancaster,
   Desert Research Institute
Andrew Valdez,
   Great Sand Dunes National Park






The Second International Planetary Dunes Workshop:  Planetary Analogs – Integrating Models, Remote Sensing, and Field Data will be held May 18–21, 2010, at the Inn of the Rio Grande in Alamosa, Colorado. The workshop will also include a one-day field trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park.


When:  May 18–21, 2010
Where:  Alamosa, Colorado


Landforms and deposits created by the dynamic interactions between granular material and airflow (aeolian processes) occur on several planetary bodies, including Earth, Mars, Titan, and Venus. The recognition of landforms on other planetary bodies requires use of terrestrial analogs in a well-established methodology for interpretation of landforms observed on orbital and lander images of other planetary bodies. Based on the paradigm that morphologically similar landforms are formed in essentially the same manner on different planetary surfaces, this approach can indicate the types of surface processes and environments that occur on an unfamiliar landscape, provided that the fundamentals of the landforms and processes are well understood on Earth.

Dunes and other aeolian bedforms are a prominent part of landscapes shaped by wind action on several planetary bodies in our solar system. Despite the three decades of study of these features, many questions regarding their composition and sediment sources, morphology, age and origins, and dynamics under present and past climatic conditions remain poorly understood. 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 (e.g., Titan).

The workshop will incorporate oral and poster presentations as well as extended discussion dispersed around a one-day field trip to dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park on May 19, 2010. 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 develop a collaborative interdisciplinary research agenda.

This workshop follows on from the very successful Planetary Dunes Workshop held in Alamogordo, New Mexico, April 28–May 2, 2008, which brought together researchers with interests in planetary dunes from diverse backgrounds, ranging from image analysis to modeling to terrestrial analog studies.

Tuesday, May 18 Oral presentations and evening poster session
Wednesday, May 19 Field trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park
Thursday, May 20 Oral presentations
Friday, May 21 Oral presentations; workshop will conclude at noon


The Great Sand Dunes is a complex aeolian system of limited extent where a variety of aeolian features can be observed. Sand deposits such as an inland sabkha, sand sheet, dunefield, and sand ramps have developed along the topographic gradient from the valley center to the Sangre de Cristo mountain front. Dune types are also variable and include types that are self-organizing and migratory, self-organizing and vertically growing, and those that form in response to vegetation and topography. The complexity of the system is the result of the interaction of various controlling factors. The field trip will explore each type of sand deposit and attempt to explain the important factor that led to its development as well as allow for discussion by the participants.

The field trip will leave from the Inn of the Rio Grande early morning on May 19, and travel to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Stop one will be in the playa lake area that is believed to be the source of the sand and where the aeolian system begins. Stop two will be at the dunefield of Great Sand Dunes National Park and the morning will be spent exploring the aeolian features of the tallest dunes in North America. This stop will include moderate to strenuous hikes on the dunes. Lunch will be at the end of stop two. The afternoon will be spent traveling to the north end of the aeolian system to stop three, the Crestone Crater. A preliminary study of the crater concluded that it wasn’t an impact crater, but there are historic accounts of a meteorite hitting the area and it would be worthwhile for the group to see it. The crater is in a sand sheet deposit and is stabilized by vegetation. Access to the crater will involve a one-mile hike with four-wheel drive shuttle available to offer assistance to those wanting it. After stop three the field trip will travel 1.5 hours back to the Inn of the Rio Grande arriving at approximately 5:00 p.m. The cost of the field trip is included in the registration fee.

Participants should be prepared for a variety of weather conditions. May is generally pleasant, but it can be cold enough to snow. Dressing in layers and wearing over-the-ankle hiking boots are recommended.


Researchers in scientific disciplines appropriate to the purpose and scope of this workshop are invited to submit abstracts for oral or poster presentation.

All abstracts, whether invited or contributed, must be submitted electronically to Lunar and Planetary Institute via the electronic submission form by 5:00 p.m. U.S. Central Standard Time on Thursday, March 11, 2010 (see timezone map). Abstracts will be limited to two pages, including graphics, tables, and references, and MUST be submitted in PDF format. Templates and detailed instructions for formatting and submitting your abstract are provided.

Note:  It is in your best interest to submit early to allow for possible technical problems or delays in transmission. Please do not wait until the last minute to access the system; access to the web form will terminate at 5:00 p.m. CST.

The program and abstracts will be available on the meeting website by April 12, 2010. These files will be in PDF format. Authors should check the online program to find out when their abstracts has been scheduled.


Abstract Deadline:
Thursday, March 11, 2010
   5:00 p.m. CST

(see timezone map)


The NASA Mars Program Office has announced that travel funding will be made available for approximately five students who are U.S. citizens, with Mars-related interests, to attend the workshop and associated field trip. An electronic student travel grant application must be submitted by March 15, 2010, to be considered for this funding. NASA Headquarters will make the selections and students will be notified no later than April 8, 2010.

Reimbursable costs include transportation (airfare, mileage to/from airport, parking, rental car) and lodging/per diem. In most cases, actual expenses will exceed the funding provided.

Note:  Students who are applying for travel assistance should not pay the registration fee until they (1) have been notified that they have not received an award or (2) have been notified that they have received an award. Failure to comply with this requirement may prohibit reimbursement.

Travel costs up to $1000.00 will be reimbursed according to JPL/government-specified allowances. For reference, hotel/per diem rates can be found at (see per diem).


  • Students must be U.S. citizens
  • Students must be enrolled at a university at the time of the workshop or the semester immediately following the conference (if during break).
Interested students with questions are encouraged to contact Charles Budney (Mars Program Office, [email protected] or 818-354-3981).


A registration fee will be assessed each participant to cover meeting costs including field trip transportation, daily lunches and breaks, and an evening poster session reception. The registration fee schedule is as follows:

Through April 19, 2010
$300.00 Professionals / $225.00 Students
April 20–May 5, 2010
$325.00 Professionals / $250.00 Students
May 6–18, 2010
$350.00 Professionals / $275.00 Students

Credit card registrations:  Participants registering by credit card must use the secure electronic registration form.

Other methods of payment:  Those registering using any method of payment (check, money order, or traveler’s checks) must use the downloadable registration form.

Cancellations:  A $25.00 cancellation fee will be charged on any cancellations received before May 5, 2010. No refunds will be given after May 5.


A block of rooms has been reserved at the host hotel, the Inn of the Rio Grande Hotel, 333 Santa Fe Avenue, Alamosa, Colorado, at the rate of $70.00/night plus tax for single occupancy. Your accommodation includes a complimentary daily deluxe hot breakfast served in Clancy’s Restaurant, which is located inside the hotel.

Room Reservations:   Reservations may be made by calling 800-669-1658.
Specify the group name: Universities Space Research Association and group code:  Lunar

All reservations must be guaranteed with a credit card. A credit card must be presented at the time of check-in for room charges, tax, and incidental charges. The deadline to receive the $70.00 group rate is April 16, 2010.


The closest major airports to Alamosa are the Colorado Springs Airport (COS) (~163 miles) and the Denver International Airport (DEN) (~212 miles).

There are limited flights available from the Colorado Springs Airport and Denver International Airport to the Alamosa County, Colorado Airport (ALS).

A ride-share message board will be posted in the final announcement for participants interested in sharing rides from an airport to Alamosa.


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

Timothy Titus
U.S. Geological Survey
Phone: 928-556-7201
E-mail: [email protected]

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

Kimberly Taylor
Lunar and Planetary Institute
Phone: 281-486-2151
Fax: 281-486-2125
E-mail:  [email protected]

For further information regarding abstract submission or workshop registration, contact

Linda Tanner
Lunar and Planetary Institute
Phone: 281-486-2142
Fax: 281-486-2125
E-mail:  [email protected]

March 11, 2010
Deadline for abstract submission
April 12, 2010
Final announcement with program and abstracts
available on this website
April 16, 2010
Deadline for hotel reservations at special rate
April 19, 2010
Deadline for workshop registration at reduced rate
May 18–21, 2010
Second International Planetary Dunes Workshop
in Alamosa, Colorado


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