Pingos and hydrologic systems
Pingos are ice-cored hills that grow in permafrost conditions on the Earth. Pingo structure is not well understood. Thanks to spacecraft observations, we know there are similar looking features on Mars and Ceres. Ongoing research aims to better understand pingo formation and determine if these enigmatic alien hills are hydrologically related to pingos.
A fraction of craters on Mars, Ganymede, Charon, and Ceres exhibit unusual lobate ejecta morphologies. These flows of ejected material are thought to be due to the presence of ice in the subsurface. Past research explored the implications of lobate ejecta on the surface properties of icy terrains throughout the solar system.
The topographic expressions of valleys, scarps, and cliffs are directly related to the structural and mechanical properties of the subsurface. This past research examined the mechanical and structural properties of Ceres below Nar Sulcus, a unique fracture system located within the Yalode crater.
Slope stability and permafrost thaw
Permafrost environments are rapidly changing in high-latitude landscapes; ground ice loss is particularly prevalent. Current research aims to better constrain rates of ground ice loss in Arctic environments as well as the associated effects on hill slope destabilization through the use of topographic analyses and applied geophysics.
Multi-spectral surface characterization
Aircraft- and space-based remote sensing are powerful tools for identifying and characterizing landforms. These methods are applied toward identifying and classifying periglacial hydrologic systems as well as natural hazard detection. Current research also includes developing and advancing human- and lander-scale geophysical techniques.
The geologic mapping campaign of Ceres produced the first global map of a dwarf planet in our solar system. Ongoing geomorphological mapping continues to reveal details about the fine-scale structure of this icy world's surface and provides vital context for understanding local to regional scale surface processes.