Abstract

Orbital images of Mercury obtained by the MESSENGER spacecraft have revealed families of troughs, interpreted to be graben, on volcanic plains material that largely or completely buried preexisting craters and basins. The graben are partially to fully encircled by rings of contractional wrinkle ridges localized over the rims of the buried impact features to form systems of associated contractional and extensional landforms. Most of the buried craters and basins with graben identified to date are located in the extensive volcanic plains that cover much of Mercury’s northern high latitudes. The distinctive relationship between wrinkle ridges and graben in buried craters and basins on Mercury is interpreted to be the result of a combination of extensional stresses from cooling and thermal contraction of thick lava flow units and compressional stresses from cooling and contraction of the planet’s interior.

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