The central themes that run through my research are the processes that modify solid surfaces, and the spatial and temporal scales that control environmental processes on the Earth. Because surfaces lie at the interface between the solid interior of a planet (from the shallow subsurface to the deep interior) and the fluid exterior (atmosphere, hydrosphere, etc.), their composition and morphology record the interesting interplay between interior and exterior processes. The interplay between interior and exterior processes modifies the surface in many ways, depending on the specific processes involved and the time scale over which they operate. These modifications are reflected in the material properties of the surface (composition, texture, physical state) and thus surfaces integrate and record the nature and evolution of processes that have acted upon them.
The types of topics that I have investigated under this general heading range from climate change on Mars as recorded in the polar regions and mid-latitude deposits to the dynamics of arid regions on Earth in response to natural and anthropogenic forcing. These are outlined in more detail below.
The fundamental tool that I use to investigate these science topics is remote sensing. The strengths of remote sensing lies in the synoptic coverage that imaging systems afford, and that the measurements of reflected and emitted radiation carry fundamental information about the material properties. Through the use of models and analytical techniques, remotely sensed data can be reduced to provide useful information about the material properties of surfaces. However, the real challenge is to then use that information effectively and address important scientific questions. The specific questions that can be addressed vary, depending on the planet, local conditions, and the time-scales relevant to the particular processes involved.
John Mustard's profile in The Directory of Research and Researchers at Brown