Press Release

Field Trip and Workshop on the Martian Highlands and Mojave Desert Analogs – First Announcement

By SpaceRef Editor
March 29, 2001
Filed under ,

October 20-27, 2001

Las Vegas, Nevada, and Barstow, California

First Announcement – April 2001

SPONSORS: Lunar and Planetary Institute, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

CONVENERS: Alan Howard, University of Virginia, Jeffrey Moore, NASA Ames Research Center, James Rice, Arizona State University

Raymond Arvidson, Washington University;
Robert Craddock, Smithsonian Center for Earth and Planetary Sciences;
William E. Dietrich, University of California, Berkeley;
Ronald Greeley, Arizona State University;
Leslie McFadden, University of New Mexico;
David Des Marais, NASA Ames Research Center;
Stephen G. Wells, Desert Research Institute;
Kelin Whipple, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
James Zimbleman, Smithsonian Center for Earth and Planetary Sciences

The cratered highlands contain the most complete record of
geological processes and environments on Mars. Despite a wealth of
data from spacecraft missions, interpretation of the early history
of Mars has remained enigmatic and controversial. This field trip
and workshop will focus on interpretation of processes and
environments during the Noachian Period and on the Mojave Desert
region as a terrestrial analog, emphasizing depositional
environments in enclosed basins, including fans, playas, and

Unlike the airless Moon, the craters that were formed during the
late heavy bombardment on Mars were strongly modified by other
contemporary surface processes that have produced distinctive
features such as (1) dendritic channel networks; (2) rimless,
flat-floored craters; (3) obliteration of most craters smaller
than a few kilometers in diameter (except for
post-heavy-bombardment impacts); and (4) smooth intercrater
plains. The involvement of water in these modification processes
seems unavoidable, but interpretations of the surface conditions
on early Mars range from the extremes of (1) the “cold” model – a
thin atmosphere and surface temperatures below freezing except for
local hydrothermal springs; and (2) the “warm” model – a thick
atmosphere, seasonal temperatures above freezing in temperate and
equatorial regions, and at least occasional precipitation as part
of an active hydrological cycle. The resolution of where along
this spectrum the actual environment of early Mars occurred is
clearly a major issue, particularly because the alternate
scenarios have much different implications about the possibility
that life might have evolved on Mars. Recent evidence from Mars
Global Surveyor (MGS) remains equivocal; some geomorphic evidence
suggests extensive fluvial erosion accompanied by depositional
fans, intracrater lakes, and possible oceans, whereas other MGS
data suggests only primitive chemical weathering and
evaporates/carbonates have not been identified. Presentations and
discussions during the workshop will focus on recent
interpretations of early martian history based upon new data from
MGS as well as the highlands as a target for future exploration.

The Mojave Desert contains examples of many of the environments
and processes that have been suggested to occur on Mars, including
weathering, mass wasting, erosion and deposition by water and
wind, lacustrine and playa deposits, igneous flows, and
intrusions. The martian uplands feature numerous enclosed basins
due to a dominance by cratering process. The crater interiors, as
well as intercrater plains, show evidence of infilling with
fluvial, eolian, and volcanic deposits, as well as abundant
evidence for fluvial incision of uplands and crater rims. Much of
the surface is composed of enclosed depressions and only a few
channel systems flow extended distances. The Mojave Desert (and
the adjacent Basin and Range) are likewise characterized by
dissected uplands surrounded by enclosed depressions with fluvial,
eolian, and volcanic infilling, although the relief was created by
faulting and folding rather than by cratering. As an environmental
analog, this region clearly is biased toward the warm and
relatively wet end of the spectrum of possible early Mars
conditions. This area has already received attention as a
potential site for Mars analogs. The arid conditions minimize the
influence of vegetation on geomorphic processes, but playa lakes
and springs support microbiologic activity in extreme conditions
of the sort that might have fostered the evolution of life of
Mars. The possible analogs to martian geomorphic and biologic
processes will be explored in four days of field excursions in the
Death Valley and central Mojave Desert region during the field
trip portion of the meeting. The field trip will include
geoscientists with primary interest in terrestrial deserts to
present interpretations of desert geomorphic and biologic


The meeting will be a combination of field activities with
presentations and discussions. A provisional schedule is presented

The two-day workshop in Barstow will include invited and
contributed presentations on topics related to the cratered
highlands of Mars, the early martian environment, and potential
terrestrial analogs. In addition, moderated discussions on topics
related to our present knowledge and opportunities in forthcoming
missions will be included. Because of facility limitations, only
oral presentations are possible, and talks will be supported by a
SINGLE overhead or slide projector.


Abstracts may address any relevant topic concerning the martian
cratered highlands, the early environment of Mars, and potential
terrestrial analogs, including (but not limited to):

  • The relative importance of fluvial, eolian, and igneous
    processes in crater modification
  • Evidence or modeling related to the hydrological cycle of
    early Mars
  • Composition and evolution of the early atmosphere
  • Highlands sites for future landed missions
  • Relevance of instrument packages on scheduled or potential
    missions to provide critical data
  • Potential terrestrial analogs to highland processes and
    environments in other areas (e.g., Antarctica, Iceland,
    Australia, etc.)
  • Potential biological environments and signatures on early
  • Post-Noachian modification of the cratered highlands

The abstract deadline is Wednesday, August 8, 2001, 5:00 p.m. U.S.
Central Standard Time. Abstracts are limited to two pages, and
must be submitted using the electronic submission form found on
this Web page. Abstracts may be submitted in a variety of
electronic formats, and complete instructions for preparing and
submitting abstracts will also be posted on this Web site. As
stated above, contributed abstracts will be considered for oral
presentation only.


Field Trip and Workshop

The field portion of the workshop will be conducted from a bus.
Because of space limitations, participation in the field trip will
be limited to 45 people. Slots will be assigned on a first-come,
first-served basis, based on date of receipt of the
preregistration form WITH a $300.00 deposit. Deposits and
reservations must be received no later than May 25, 2001. The
balance of the registration fee will be due by July 20, 2001. An
invoice will be sent to the field trip/workshop participants
following the May 25 deadline for use when remitting the balance.
If we receive forms and deposits from more than 45 people, those
names will be put on a waiting list.

Lodging in Las Vegas: Hotel accommodations for the evening of
Saturday, October 20, are at the discretion and expense of each
individual participant. However, we strongly encourage
participants to book their Saturday evening reservations at the
AmeriSuites Las Vegas Paradise Road, 4520 Paradise Road, Las Vegas
NV 89109 (phone: 702-369-3366; fax: 702-369-0009). Early
registration and a social event will be held at the AmeriSuites on
Saturday evening, and a field trip overview will be held at
8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, followed by bus departure at
10:00 a.m. Participants staying at this hotel on Saturday evening
will be provided with a complimentary deluxe continental

Suites are available for $72.00 plus tax per night, single or
double occupancy (additional charge per guest is $10.00). Deluxe
suite accommodations include refrigerator, microwave, wet bar,
coffeemaker, irons, and ironing boards. AmeriSuites is located
within one mile of McCarran International Airport, the Las Vegas
Strip, Caesars Palace, and the MGM Hotel and Theme Park (free
shuttle service provided). Make your reservations early, because
rooms are subject to availability.

Lodging in Stovepipe Wells and in Barstow, California, will be
shared accommodations in double, nonsmoking rooms. Registration
costs will include registration icebreaker; bus transportation;
workshop fees; box lunches and refreshments for days spent in the
field; breakfast, dinner, and accommodations in Stovepipe Wells;
hotel and banquet in Barstow; and an abstract volume and field

If you are a part of the field trip and workshop, you will be sent
an e-mail by June 5, 2001, with additional details and logistics.

Workshop Only

The workshop in Barstow will be open to those who wish to attend
ONLY the two-day meeting. Participants joining the group in
Barstow to attend the workshop will not be allowed to follow the
bus into the field for the postworkshop field activities. A
preregistration form for use by workshop-only attendees is also
provided. The deadline for workshop-only registration is
September 14, 2001. You will be responsible for making your hotel
reservations and paying for your room in Barstow. A block of rooms
will be held at the GSA rate (currently $64.00 plus tax) at the
Ramada Inn Barstow (phone number: 760-256-5673) for this purpose.
You need to make your reservations by September 21 in order to
receive this rate.

For those attending the workshop only, additional logistical
information (including location of the hotel, etc.) will be posted
on this Web site by June 5, 2001.

Registration and Fees

Six-day field trip and workshop $650.00

Two-day workshop ONLY $100.00

Cancellation Policy

There will be no refunds for the field trip and workshop unless
your slot can be sold to someone on the waiting list. Refunds for
the workshop ONLY will be made for cancellations received before
October 12, 2001.


Future announcements for this meeting will not be mailed in hard
copy but will be posted on this Web site.

For questions related to the scientific content of the meeting,
please contact

Alan Howard

phone: 804-924-0563


For questions related to logistics or announcements, contact the
LPI meeting coordinator

Cheryl Perry

phone: 281-486-2123

fax: 281-486-2160


For questions related to the preparation or submission of
abstracts, contact the LPI publications coordinator

Renee Dotson

phone: 281-486-2188

fax: 281-486-2125


SpaceRef staff editor.