Postdoctoral Scholar at the California Institute of Technology

sedimentary geology | geomorphology | planetary science

Ph.D., Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, 2019

M.S., Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, 2014

B.S., Geology, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2012

Benjamin T. Cardenas

Benjamin T. Cardenas


My name is Ben, and I am currently a postdoc at Caltech. As a member of the Lamb Surface Processes Group, and as a former PhD student in David Mohrig’s Research Group at the University of Texas at Austin, I am working to understand how the sedimentary deposits built by rivers and wind-blown sand dunes record information about planetary surfaces. To answer these questions, I have studied active sedimentary systems, outcrop of sedimentary rocks built by ancient sedimentary systems, and still-buried sedimentary deposits imaged in 3D seismic volumes. I hope to help decode the rock record so we can better understand the history and evolution of Earth’s surface. Mars has a rich sedimentary record exposed at its surface and visible in satellite images. I am striving to better understand these deposits on Mars by comparing them to deposits on Earth.

Above all, I value exploring these research questions in collaborative settings with diverse expertise. Please explore this website, and feel free to get in touch or connect with me online.

My twitter feed: enjoy the (mostly) weekly #sedimentologysaturday

Autogenic scour of the Page Sandstone

Autogenic scour of the Page Sandstone


The driving goal of my science is to better connect sedimentary dynamics with the rock record. To this end, I perform research examining ancient strata exposed in the field, active sedimentary systems, the surface of Mars with remote sensing data, and Earth’s subsurface with 3D seismic volumes. I value quantitative approaches, collaboration with diverse expertise, and getting my hands dirty and making measurements.

Please get in touch if you would like a copy of any paper listed here.

*Undergraduate mentee

In Preparation

2. *Zhao, F., Cardenas, B.T., and Kim, W., Aeolian grainflows: from surface process to subsurface record.

1. Cardenas, B.T., Swartz, J.M., Mohrig, D., and Prokocki, E.W., Setting up the preservation of fluvial channel belts.

In Review

4. Mason, J., Cardenas, B.T., Day, M.D., Daniller-Varghese, M., Brothers, S.C., Kocurek, G., and Mohrig, D., Subaqueous dune-field pattern evolution and interactions. In review at Sedimentology.

3. Cardenas, B.T., Swanson, T., Goudge, T.A., Wagner, R.W., and Mohrig, D., The effect of remote sensing resolution limits on aeolian sandstone measurements and the reconstruction of ancient dune fields on Mars: Numerical experiment using the Page Sandstone, Earth. In review at Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. Preprint available on EarthArxiv:

2. Cardenas, B.T., Mohrig, D., Goudge, T.A., Hughes, C.M., Levy, J.S., Swanson, T., Mason, J., and Zhao, F., Anatomy of exhumed river-channel belts: Reconstructing bedform- and belt-scale kinematics from the Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah, USA. In review at Sedimentology. Preprint available on EarthArxiv:

1. Cardenas, B.T., and Smith, B.P., Grainstone cross-set geometry as a resilient physical proxy for ancient marine cements. In review at Geology. Preprint available on EarthArxiv:



6. Swanson, T., Mohrig, D., Kocurek, G., Cardenas, B.T., Wolinsky, M.A. (2019) Preservation of autogenic processes and allogenic forcings within set-scale aeolian architecture I: numerical experiments: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 89, p. 728-740.

5. Cardenas, B.T., Kocurek, G., Mohrig, D., Swanson, T., Hughes, C.M., and Brothers, S.C. (2019), Preservation of autogenic processes and allogenic forcings within set-scale aeolian architecture II: the scour-fill dominated Jurassic Page Sandstone, Arizona, USA.: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 89, p. 741-760.

4. Kocurek, G., Martindale, R.C., Day, M.D., Goudge, T.A., Kerans, C., Hassenruck-Gudipati, H.J., Mason, J., Cardenas, B.T., Petersen, E.I., Mohrig, D., Aylward, D.S., Hughes, C.M., and Nazworth, C.M. (2019) Antecedent aeolian dune topographic control on carbonate and evaporate facies: Jurassic Todilto Member, Wanakah Formation, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, USA. Sedimentology, v. 66, p. 808-837.

3. *Hughes, C.M., Cardenas, B.T., Goudge, T.A., and Mohrig, D. (2019) Deltaic Deposits Indicative of a Paleo-Coastline at Aeolis Dorsa, Mars. Icarus, v. 317, p. 442-453.

2. Goudge, T.A., Mohrig, D., Cardenas, B.T., Hughes, C.M., and Fassett, C.I. (2018) Stratigraphy and Paleohydrology of Delta Channel Deposits, Jezero Crater, Mars. Icarus, v. 301, p. 58-75.

1. Cardenas, B.T., Mohrig, D., and Goudge, T.A. (2018), Fluvial stratigraphy of valley fills at Aeolis Dorsa, Mars: Evidence for base-level fluctuations controlled by a downstream water body. GSA Bulletin, v. 130, p. 484-498. 


2. Cardenas, B.T. (2019) The accumulation and preservation of fluvial and aeolian strata. PhD Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin.

1. Cardenas, B.T. (2014) Evidence for coastline-controlled changes in base level from fluvial stratigraphy at Aeolis Dorsa, Mars. MS Thesis, University of Texas at Austin.



slides and posters


Autogenic Processes and Environmental Forcings Recorded in Aeolian Stratigraphy I: the Jurassic Page Sandstone, Arizona, USA

AAPG/SEPM Annual Convention and Expo, San Antonio, TX, May 22, 2019


The Accumulation and Preservation of Fluvial and Aeolian Strata

PhD Talk, Jackson School of Geosciences Soft Rock Seminar, Austin, TX, May 6, 2019


The Length of Fluvial Sinuous Ridges on Mars

LPSC, The Woodlands, TX, March 20, 2019



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