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Innovative experiment on river formation sheds light on Mars

 

Narrator: This is Science Today. Meandering rivers are not only nice to look at — they also produce diverse, wildlife-rich habitats that are the goal of many river restoration efforts. But how meanders actually form and are maintained has been speculative — until a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley created the first experimental, self-sustaining meanders in a lab. William Dietrich, a professor of planetary and Earth sciences, says this knowledge will not only help us here on Earth, but also in the studies of the dry channels found on Mars.

Dietrich: The research we've done on river channel processes has recently taken an increased significance on studies on Mars because we have found with the high resolution cameras, features that are very similar to features we find on Earth. In particular, meandering channels. Just the morphology on Mars of a sinuous channel contains important clues about Martian history that our work has some bearing on because we can understand more about what controls form.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.