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Geosciences 2015, 5(1), 30-44;

Probing the Hidden Geology of Isidis Planitia (Mars) with Impact Craters

Division of IT, Engineering and the Environment, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia
Istituto di Radioastronomia, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Via Piero Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jesus Martinez-Frias
Received: 31 December 2014 / Accepted: 5 February 2015 / Published: 13 February 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Planetary Geosciences and Space Exploration)
Full-Text   |   PDF [4378 KB, uploaded 13 February 2015]   |  


In this study we investigated Isidis Planitia, a 1325 km diameter multi-ring impact basin intersecting the Martian hemispheric dichotomy, located in the eastern hemisphere, between Syrtis Major and Utopia Planitia. From Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter gridded data we observed that in the center of Isidis the −3700 m and −3800 m isolines strike NW-SE, being quasi-parallel to the diameter of the basin. We interpreted this as evidence that the basement of Isidis Planitia was faulted prior to being completely covered by layers of sediments and volcanic rocks. Plotting the morphometric data of impact craters located on the floor of the basin in a measured depths vs. predicted depths diagram (MPD), we concluded that the fault planes should dip SW, which is consistent with the location of the most topographically depressed sector of Isidis Planitia. We also estimated a minimum vertical displacement of ~1–2 km. Considering that the crust under Isidis Planitia is only a few km thick, our estimate implies brittle behavior of the lithosphere under the basin, suggesting that a low geothermal gradient and rheologically strong material characterize this Martian location. View Full-Text
Keywords: Mars; Isidis Planitia; MOLA DEM; impact craters; tectonics; lithosphere Mars; Isidis Planitia; MOLA DEM; impact craters; tectonics; lithosphere

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Caprarelli, G.; Orosei, R. Probing the Hidden Geology of Isidis Planitia (Mars) with Impact Craters. Geosciences 2015, 5, 30-44.

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