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The effects of crater degradation and target differences on the morphologies of Martian complex craters

By
J. Whitehead
J. Whitehead
Science and Technology Studies, St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 5G3, Canada
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R.A.F. Grieve
R.A.F. Grieve
Earth Sciences Sector, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A OE4, Canada
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J.B. Garvin
J.B. Garvin
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters, 300 E. Street SW, Office of the Administrator, Washington, DC 20546-0001, USA
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J.G. Spray
J.G. Spray
Planetary and Space Science Centre, Department of Geology, University of New Brunswick, 2 Bailey Drive, Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5A3, Canada
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Published:
September 01, 2010

We compared the target types and the morphologies and morphometries of various features within fresh complex craters on Mars to assess target dependence. The wide scatter in depth-diameter data from Martian craters is more pronounced than for lunar or Mercurian craters. This was previously assumed to be predominantly due to significant degrees of denudation and secondary infilling of the Martian craters. However, our data for fresh craters still exhibit a wide variation, which we interpret to be the result of comparatively higher target heterogeneity on Mars. Complex central peaks exhibit some crater diameter dependence, preferentially occurring in craters >50 km. Neither peak complexity nor geometry shows any statistical correlation with target type. Although central peak heights and aspect ratios do not exhibit any clear target dependence, they do appear to be correlated—higher peaks possess narrower aspect ratios. Floor and summit pits appear to be more common on lava targets than sedimentary targets, contrary to earlier studies with smaller sample sizes. This observation imposes additional constraints on models proposed for the origin of pits, especially those models that require the presence of volatiles in the target.

The ability to correlate target type with crater morphologies/morphometries is highly contingent upon both the surface geology and the actual geology at depth. Some weak correlations may reflect our current limited understanding of the sub-surface geology of Mars. Information on the deeper lithologies acquired through future missions may help resolve the true effect of subsurface competence on intracrater structure.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution IV

Roger L. Gibson
Roger L. Gibson
Impact Cratering Research Group, School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
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Wolf Uwe Reimold
Wolf Uwe Reimold
Museum für Naturkunde-Leibniz Institute at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
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Geological Society of America
Volume
465
ISBN print:
9780813724652
Publication date:
September 01, 2010

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