The geology of the Marcia quadrangle of asteroid Vesta: Assessing the effects of large, young craters
We used Dawn spacecraft data to identify and delineate geological units and landforms in the Marcia quadrangle of Vesta as a means to assess the role of the large, relatively young impact craters Marcia (∼63 km diam.) and Calpurnia (∼53 km diam.) and their surrounding ejecta field on the local geology. We also investigated a local topographic high with a dark-rayed crater named Aricia Tholus, and the impact crater Octavia that is surrounded by a distinctive diffuse mantle. Crater counts and stratigraphic relations suggest that Marcia is the youngest large crater on Vesta, in which a putative impact melt on the crater floor ranges in age between ∼40 and 60 Ma (depending upon choice of chronology system), and Marcia’s ejecta blanket ranges in age between ∼120 and 390 Ma (depending upon choice of chronology system). We interpret the geologic units in and around Marcia crater to mark a major vestan time-stratigraphic event, and that the Marcia Formation is one of the geologically youngest formations on Vesta. Marcia crater reveals pristine bright and dark material in its walls and smooth and pitted terrains on its floor. The smooth unit we interpret as evidence of flow of impact melts and (for the pitted terrain) release of volatiles during or after the impact process. The distinctive dark ejecta surrounding craters Marcia and Calpurnia is enriched in OH- or H-bearing phases and has a variable morphology, suggestive of a complex mixture of impact ejecta and impact melts including dark materials possibly derived from carbonaceous chondrite-rich material. Aricia Tholus, which was originally interpreted as a putative vestan volcanic edifice based on lower resolution observations, appears to be a fragment of an ancient impact basin rim topped by a dark-rayed impact crater. Octavia crater has a cratering model formation age of ∼280–990 Ma based on counts of its ejecta field (depending upon choice of chronology system), and its ejecta field is the second oldest unit in this quadrangle. The relatively young craters and their related ejecta materials in this quadrangle are in stark contrast to the surrounding heavily cratered units that are related to the billion years old or older Rheasilvia and Veneneia impact basins and Vesta’s ancient crust preserved on Vestalia Terra.