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Cryovolcanic flooding in Viking Terra on Pluto

Cruikshank, Dale P. and Dalle Ore, Cristina M. and Scipioni, Francesca and Beyer, Ross A. and White, Oliver L. and Moore, Jeffrey M. and Grundy, William M. and Schmitt, Bernard and Runyon, Kirby D. and Keane, James T. and Robbins, Stuart J. and Stern, S. Alan and Bertrand, Tanguy and Beddingfield, Chloe B. and Olkin, Catherine B. and Young, Leslie A. and Weaver, Harold A. and Ennico, Kimberly (2021) Cryovolcanic flooding in Viking Terra on Pluto. Icarus, 356 . Art. No. 113786. ISSN 0019-1035. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2020.113786.

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A prominent fossa trough (Uncama Fossa) and adjacent 28-km diameter impact crater (Hardie) in Pluto's Viking Terra, as seen in the high-resolution images from the New Horizons spacecraft, show morphological evidence of in-filling with a material of uniform texture and red-brown color. A linear fissure parallel to the trough may be the source of a fountaining event yielding a cryoclastic deposit having the same composition and color properties as is found in the trough and crater. Spectral maps of this region with the New Horizons LEISA instrument reveal the spectral signature of H₂O ice in these structures and in distributed patches in the adjacent terrain in Viking Terra. A detailed statistical analysis of the spectral maps shows that the colored H₂O ice filling material also carries the 2.2-μm signature of an ammoniated component that may be an ammonia hydrate (NH₃nH₂O) or an ammoniated salt. This paper advances the view that the crater and fossa trough have been flooded by a cryolava debouched from Pluto's interior along fault lines in the trough and in the floor of the impact crater. The now frozen cryolava consisted of liquid H₂O infused with the red-brown pigment presumed to be a tholin, and one or more ammoniated compounds. Although the abundances of the pigment and ammoniated compounds entrained in, or possibly covering, the H₂O ice are unknown, the strong spectral bands of the H₂O ice are clearly visible. In consideration of the factors in Pluto's space environment that are known to destroy ammonia and ammonia-water mixtures, the age of the exposure is of order ≤10⁹ years. Ammoniated salts may be more robust, and laboratory investigations of these compounds are needed.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Cruikshank, Dale P.0000-0002-0541-5569
Dalle Ore, Cristina M.0000-0003-4787-0014
Scipioni, Francesca0000-0001-8056-1438
Beyer, Ross A.0000-0003-4503-3335
White, Oliver L.0000-0003-0126-4625
Schmitt, Bernard0000-0002-1230-6627
Runyon, Kirby D.0000-0001-6361-6548
Keane, James T.0000-0002-4803-5793
Robbins, Stuart J.0000-0002-8585-2549
Bertrand, Tanguy0000-0002-2302-9776
Beddingfield, Chloe B.0000-0001-5048-6254
Olkin, Catherine B.0000-0002-5846-716X
Young, Leslie A.0000-0002-7547-3967
Weaver, Harold A.0000-0003-0951-7762
Ennico, Kimberly0000-0002-8847-8492
Additional Information:© 2020 Published by Elsevier. Received 15 November 2019, Revised 15 March 2020, Accepted 30 March 2020, Available online 8 April 2020. This work was supported by NASA's New Horizons project. We thank NASA and the entire New Horizons team for their hard work leading to a spectacularly successful Pluto system encounter. B. Schmitt acknowledges France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) for its financial support through its “Système Solaire” program. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Pluto; Volcanism; IR spectroscopy; Surface; Ices
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200409-115737795
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Dale P. Cruikshank, Cristina M. Dalle Ore, Francesca Scipioni, Ross A. Beyer, Oliver L. White, Jeffrey M. Moore, William M. Grundy, Bernard Schmitt, Kirby D. Runyon, James T. Keane, Stuart J. Robbins, S. Alan Stern, Tanguy Bertrand, Chloe B. Beddingfield, Catherine B. Olkin, Leslie A. Young, Harold A. Weaver, Kimberly Ennico, Cryovolcanic flooding in Viking Terra on Pluto, Icarus, Volume 356, 2021, 113786, ISSN 0019-1035, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:102438
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:09 Apr 2020 20:41
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:12

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