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The geology of the Marcia quadrangle of asteroid Vesta: Assessing the effects of large, young craters

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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

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.

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  • 2014-12-01

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Vesta's north pole quadrangle Av-1 (Albana): Geologic map and the nature of the south polar basin antipodes

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As part of systematic global mapping of Vesta using data returned by the Dawn spacecraft, we have produced a geologic map of the north pole quadrangle, Av-1 Albana. Extensive seasonal

As part of systematic global mapping of Vesta using data returned by the Dawn spacecraft, we have produced a geologic map of the north pole quadrangle, Av-1 Albana. Extensive seasonal shadows were present in the north polar region at the time of the Dawn observations, limiting the ability to map morphological features and employ color or spectral data for determination of composition. The major recognizable units present include ancient cratered highlands and younger crater-related units (undivided ejecta, and mass-wasting material on crater floors). The antipode of Vesta’s large southern impact basins, Rheasilvia and Veneneia, lie within or near the Av-1 quadrangle. Therefore it is of particular interest to search for evidence of features of the kind that are found at basin antipodes on other planetary bodies. Albedo markings known as lunar swirls are correlated with basin antipodes and the presence of crustal magnetic anomalies on the Moon, but lighting conditions preclude recognition of such albedo features in images of the antipode of Vesta’s Rheasilvia basin. “Hilly and lineated terrain,” found at the antipodes of large basins on the Moon and Mercury, is not present at the Rheasilvia or Veneneia antipodes. We have identified small-scale linear depressions that may be related to increased fracturing in the Rheasilvia and Veneneia antipodal areas, consistent with impact-induced stresses (Buczkowski, D. et al. [2012b]. Analysis of the large scale troughs on Vesta and correlation to a model of giant impact into a differentiated asteroid. Geol. Soc. of America Annual Meeting. Abstract 152-4; Bowling, T.J. et al. [2013]. J. Geophys. Res. – Planets, 118. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgre.20123). The general high elevation of much of the north polar region could, in part, be a result of uplift caused by the Rheasilvia basin-forming impact, as predicted by numerical modeling (Bowling, T.J. et al. [2013]. J. Geophys. Res. – Planets, 118. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgre.20123). However, stratigraphic and crater size–frequency distribution analysis indicate that the elevated terrain predates the two southern basins and hence is likely a remnant of the ancient vestan crust. The lack of large-scale morphological features at the basin antipodes can be attributed to weakened antipodal constructive interference of seismic waves caused by an oblique impact or by Vesta’s non-spherical shape, or by attenuation of seismic waves because of the physical properties of Vesta’s interior. A first-order analysis of the Dawn global digital elevation model for Vesta indicates that areas of permanent shadow are unlikely to be present in the vicinity of the north pole.

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  • 2014-12-01

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Geologic map of the northern hemisphere of Vesta based on Dawn Framing Camera (FC) images

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The Dawn Framing Camera (FC) has imaged the northern hemisphere of the Asteroid (4) Vesta at high spatial resolution and coverage. This study represents the first investigation of the overall

The Dawn Framing Camera (FC) has imaged the northern hemisphere of the Asteroid (4) Vesta at high spatial resolution and coverage. This study represents the first investigation of the overall geology of the northern hemisphere (22–90°N, quadrangles Av-1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) using these unique Dawn mission observations. We have compiled a morphologic map and performed crater size–frequency distribution (CSFD) measurements to date the geologic units. The hemisphere is characterized by a heavily cratered surface with a few highly subdued basins up to ∼200 km in diameter. The most widespread unit is a plateau (cratered highland unit), similar to, although of lower elevation than the equatorial Vestalia Terra plateau. Large-scale troughs and ridges have regionally affected the surface. Between ∼180°E and ∼270°E, these tectonic features are well developed and related to the south pole Veneneia impact (Saturnalia Fossae trough unit), elsewhere on the hemisphere they are rare and subdued (Saturnalia Fossae cratered unit). In these pre-Rheasilvia units we observed an unexpectedly high frequency of impact craters up to ∼10 km in diameter, whose formation could in part be related to the Rheasilvia basin-forming event. The Rheasilvia impact has potentially affected the northern hemisphere also with S–N small-scale lineations, but without covering it with an ejecta blanket. Post-Rheasilvia impact craters are small (<60 km in diameter) and show a wide range of degradation states due to impact gardening and mass wasting processes. Where fresh, they display an ejecta blanket, bright rays and slope movements on walls. In places, crater rims have dark material ejecta and some crater floors are covered by ponded material interpreted as impact melt.

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Date Created
  • 2014-12-01