• Breccia dikes and crater-related faults in impact craters on Mars: Erosion and exposure on the floor of a crater 75 km in diameter at the dichotomy boundary

      Head, James W.; Mustard, John F. (The Meteoritical Society, 2006-01-01)
      Environmental conditions on Mars are conducive to the modification and erosion of impact craters, potentially revealing the nature of their substructure. On Earth, postimpact erosion of complex craters in a wide range of target rocks has revealed the nature and distribution of crater-related fault structures and a complex array of breccia and pseudotachylyte dikes, which range up to tens of meters in width and tens of kilometers in length. We review the characteristics of fault structures, breccia dikes, and pseudotachylyte dikes on Earth, showing that they occur in complex network-like patterns and are often offset along late-stage crater-related faults. Individual faults and dikes can undulate in width and can branch and bifurcate along strike. Detailed geological analyses of terrestrial craters show that faults and breccia dikes form during each of the major stages of the impact-cratering process (compression, excavation, and modification). We report here on the discovery of prominent, lattice-like ridge networks occurring on the floor of a highly modified impact crater 75 km in diameter near the dichotomy boundary of the northern lowland and southern upland. Interior fill and crater-floor units have been exhumed by fluvial and eolian processes to reveal a unit below the crater floor containing a distinctive set of linear ridges of broadly similar width and forming a lattice-like pattern. Ridge exposures range from ~1-4 km in length and ~65-120 m in width, are broadly parallel, straight to slightly curving, and are cross-cut by near-orthogonal ridges, forming a box or lattice-like pattern. Ridges are exposed on the exhumed crater floor, extending from the base of the wall toward the center. On the basis of the strong similarities of these features to terrestrial crater-related fault structures and breccia dikes, we interpret these ridges to be faults and breccia dikes formed below the floor of the crater during the excavation and modification stages of the impact event, and subsequently exhumed by erosion. The recognition of such features on Mars will help in documenting the nature of impact-cratering processes and aid in assessment of crustal structure. Faults and breccia dikes can also be used as data for the assessment of post-cratering depths and degrees of landform exhumation.
    • Chesapeake Bay impact structure: Morphology, crater fill, and relevance for impact structures on Mars

      Horton, J. Wright; Ormö, Jens; Powars, David S.; Gohn, Gregory S. (The Meteoritical Society, 2006-01-01)
      The late Eocene Chesapeake Bay impact structure (CBIS) on the Atlantic margin of Virginia is one of the largest and best-preserved "wet-target" craters on Earth. It provides an accessible analog for studying impact processes in layered and wet targets on volatile-rich planets. The CBIS formed in a layered target of water, weak clastic sediments, and hard crystalline rock. The buried structure consists of a deep, filled central crater, 38 km in width, surrounded by a shallower brim known as the annular trough. The annular trough formed partly by collapse of weak sediments, which expanded the structure to ~85 km in diameter. Such extensive collapse, in addition to excavation processes, can explain the "inverted sombrero" morphology observed at some craters in layered targets.The distribution of crater-fill materials in the CBIS is related to the morphology. Suevitic breccia, including pre-resurge fallback deposits, is found in the central crater. Impact-modified sediments, formed by fluidization and collapse of water-saturated sand and silt-clay, occur in the annular trough. Allogenic sediment-clast breccia, interpreted as ocean-resurge deposits, overlies the other impactites and covers the entire crater beneath a blanket of postimpact sediments.The formation of chaotic terrains on Mars is attributed to collapse due to the release of volatiles from thick layered deposits. Some flat-floored rimless depressions with chaotic infill in these terrains are impact craters that expanded by collapse farther than expected for similar-sized complex craters in solid targets. Studies of crater materials in the CBIS provide insights into processes of crater expansion on Mars and their links to volatiles.
    • Impact craters in the northern hemisphere of Mars: Layered ejecta and central pit characteristics

      Barlow, Nadine G. (The Meteoritical Society, 2006-01-01)
      Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and Mars Odyssey data are being used to revise the Catalog of Large Martian Impact Craters. Analysis of data in the revised catalog provides new details on the distribution and morphologic details of 6795 impact craters in the northern hemisphere of Mars. This report focuses on the ejecta morphologies and central pit characteristics of these craters. The results indicate that single-layer ejecta (SLE) morphology is most consistent with impact into an ice-rich target. Double-layer ejecta (DLE) and multiple-layer ejecta (MLE) craters also likely form in volatile-rich materials, but the interaction of the ejecta curtain and target-produced vapor with the thin Martian atmosphere may be responsible for the large runout distances of these ejecta. Pancake craters appear to be a modified form of double-layer craters where the thin outer layer has been destroyed or is unobservable at present resolutions. Pedestal craters are proposed to form in an ice-rich mantle deposited during high obliquity periods from which the ice has subsequently sublimated. Central pits likely form by the release of vapor produced by impact into ice-soil mixed targets. Therefore, results from the present study are consistent with target volatiles playing a dominant role in the formation of crater morphologies found in the Martian northern hemisphere.
    • The planforms of low-angle impact craters in the northern hemisphere of Mars

      Herrick, Robert R.; Hessen, Katie K. (The Meteoritical Society, 2006-01-01)
      We have surveyed Martian impact craters greater than 5 km in diameter using Viking and thermal emission imaging system (THEMIS) imagery to evaluate how the planform of the rim and ejecta changes with decreasing impact angle. We infer the impact angles at which the changes occur by assuming a sin2Phi dependence for the cumulative fraction of craters forming below angle Phi. At impact angles less than ~40 from horizontal, the ejecta become offset downrange relative to the crater rim. As the impact angle decreases to less than ~20 degrees, the ejecta begin to concentrate in the crossrange direction and a "forbidden zone" that is void of ejecta develops in the uprange direction. At angles less than ~10 degrees, a "butterfly" ejecta pattern is generated by the presence of downrange and uprange forbidden zones, and the rim planform becomes elliptical with the major axis oriented along the projectile's direction of travel. The uprange forbidden zone appears as a "V" curving outward from the rim, but the downrange forbidden zone is a straight-edged wedge. Although fresh Martian craters greater than 5 km in diameter have ramparts indicative of surface ejecta flow, the ejecta planforms and the angles at which they occur are very similar to those for lunar craters and laboratory impacts conducted in a dry vacuum. The planforms are different from those for Venusian craters and experimental impacts in a dense atmosphere. We interpret our results to indicate that Martian ejecta are first emplaced predominantly ballistically and then experience modest surface flow.