A new manuscript by graduate student Tony Maue and Professor Devon Burr has been published open access in Icarus, titled Rapid rounding of icy clasts during simulated fluvial transport in the Titan Tumbler. This work was also co-authored by Professor Joe Levy at Colgate University, graduate student Patrick Matulka at Washington University in St. Louis, and graduate student Erica Nathan at Brown University.
A companion paper, giving the full dataset from our tumbler experiments was also published in Data in Brief, titled Sieved mass and shape data from simulated fluvial transport of icy clasts in the Titan Tumbler.
In this work, we used a liquid nitrogen-cooled tumbling barrel (panels A & B) to simulate the abrasion of water ice clasts in fluvial transport, as is expected to occur on Saturn’s moon Titan (panel C). Ice clasts fragmented and rounded over short distances, similar to relatively weak materials on Earth (panel D). These findings show that rounding of icy sediment may occur easily on Titan and that cobbles like those seen at the Huygens Landing Site (see below) could have been sourced from nearby. Furthermore, the small amount of sand-sized grains produced in our experiments suggest that the sand of Titan’s vast dune fields is likely produced by means other than fluvial abrasion.