• Martian subsurface properties and crater formation processes inferred from fresh impact crater geometries

      Stewart, Sarah T.; Valiant, Gregory J. (The Meteoritical Society, 2006-01-01)
      The geometry of simple impact craters reflects the properties of the target materials, and the diverse range of fluidized morphologies observed in Martian ejecta blankets are controlled by the near-surface composition and the climate at the time of impact.Using the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) data set, quantitative information about the strength of the upper crust and the dynamics of Martian ejecta blankets may be derived from crater geometry measurements. Here, we present the results fromgeometrical measurements of fresh craters 3-50 km in rim diameter in selected highland (Lunae and Solis Plana) and lowland (Acidalia, Isidis, and Utopia Planitiae) terrains. We find large, resolved differences between the geometrical properties of the freshest highland and lowland craters. Simple lowland craters are 1.5-2.0 times deeper (greater than or equal to 5-sigma difference) with >50% larger cavities (greater than or equal to 2-sigma) compared to highland craters of the same diameter. Rim heights and the volume of material above the preimpact surface are slightly greater in the lowlands over most of the size range studied. The different shapes of simple highland and lowland craters indicate that the upper ~6.5 km of the lowland study regions are significantly stronger than the upper crust of the highland plateaus. Lowland craters collapse to final volumes of 45-70% of their transient cavity volumes, while highland craters preserve only 25-50%. The effective yield strength of the upper crust in the lowland regions falls in the range of competent rock, approximately 9-12 MPa, and the highland plateaus may be weaker by a factor of 2 or more, consistent with heavily fractured Noachian layered deposits. The measured volumes of continuous ejecta blankets and uplifted surface materials exceed the predictions from standard crater scaling relationships and Maxwell's Z model of crater excavation by a factor of 3. The excess volume of fluidized ejecta blankets on Mars cannot be explained by concentration of ejecta through nonballistic emplacement processes and/or bulking. The observations require a modification of the scaling laws and are well fit using a scaling factor of ~1.4 between the transient crater surface diameter to the final crater rim diameter and excavation flow originating from one projectile diameter depth with Z = 2.7. The refined excavation model provides the first observationally constrained set of initial parameters for study of the formation of fluidized ejecta blankets on Mars.
    • Role of water in the formation of the Late Cretaceous Wetumpka impact structure, inner Gulf Coastal Plain of Alabama, USA

      King, David T.; Ormö, Jens; Petruny, Lucille W.; Neathery, Thornton L. (The Meteoritical Society, 2006-01-01)
      The effect of shallow marine water (30-100 m deep) in the late excavation and early modification stages of a marine-target crater 5 km in diameter, as exemplified by the Late Cretaceous Wetumpka impact structure in Alabama, USA, is manifest in the early collapse of a weak part of the rim. Excavation flow and connate marine water are interpreted to be factors in this collapse. This partial rim collapse catastrophically emplaced an upper-structure-filling unit of broken and redistributed sedimentary target formations, which presently mantles the deeper fallback breccia deposits within the structure. Furthermore, rim collapse flow facilitated the formation of a structurally modified, extrastructure terrain, which is located outside and adjacent to the collapsed rim segment. This extrastructure terrain appears to be the product of extensive slumping of poorly consolidated target sedimentary formations.