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Abstract

At a global scale, Mercury is dominated by contractional features manifested as lobate scarps, wrinkle ridges and high-relief ridges. Here, we show that some of these features are associated with strike-slip kinematic indicators, which we identified using flyby and orbital Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) data and digital terrain models. We recognize oblique-shear kinematics along lobate scarps and high-relief ridges by means of (1) map geometries of fault patterns (frontal thrusts bordered by lateral ramps, strike-slip duplexes, restraining bends); (2) structural morphologies indicating lateral shearing (en echelon folding, pop-ups, pull-aparts); and (3) estimates of offsets based on displaced crater rims and differences in elevation between pop-up structures and pull-apart basins and their surroundings. Transpressional faults, documented across a wide range of latitudes, are found associated with reactivated rims of ancient buried basins and, in most cases, linked to frontal thrusts as lateral ramps hundreds of kilometres long. This latter observation suggests stable directions of tectonic transport over wide regions of Mercury’s surface. In contrast, global cooling would imply an overall isotropic contraction with limited processes of lateral shearing induced by pre-existent lithospheric heterogeneities. Mantle convection therefore may have played an important role during the tectonic evolution of Mercury.

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