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Insolation driven variations of Mercury’s lithospheric strength

Williams, Jean-Pierre and Ruiz, Javier and Rosenburg, Margaret A. and Aharonson, Oded and Phillips, Roger J. (2011) Insolation driven variations of Mercury’s lithospheric strength. Journal of Geophysical Research E, 116 . Art. No. E01008. ISSN 0148-0227.

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Mercury's coupled 3:2 spin-orbit resonance in conjunction with its relatively high eccentricity of ~0.2 and near-zero obliquity results in both a latitudinal and longitudinal variation in annual average solar insolation and thus equatorial hot and cold regions. This results in an asymmetric temperature distribution in the lithosphere and a long wavelength lateral variation in lithosphere structure and strength that mirrors the insolation pattern. We employ a thermal evolution model for Mercury generating strength envelopes of the lithosphere to demonstrate and quantify the possible effects the insolation pattern has on Mercury's lithosphere. We find the heterogeneity in lithosphere strength is substantial and increases with time. We also find that a crust thicker than that of the Moon or Mars and dry rheologies for the crust and mantle are favorable when compared with estimates of brittle-ductile transition depths derived from lobate scarps. Regions of stronger and weaker compressive strength imply that the accommodation of radial contraction of Mercury as its interior cooled, manifest as lobate scarps, may not be isotropic, imparting a preferential orientation and distribution to the lobate scarps.

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Aharonson, Oded0000-0001-9930-2495
Additional Information:© 2011 American Geophysical Union. Received 31 May 2010; revised 22 September 2010; accepted 14 October 2010; published 21 January 2011. We wish to thank David A. Paige, the associate editor of JGR‐Planets, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions that resulted in an improved manuscript. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation Division of Earth Sciences (EAR) and the Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Grants program (AST‐0709151). J. R. was supported by a contract Ramón y Cajal cofinanced from the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación of Spain and the Fondo Social Europeo (ESF).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (MCINN)UNSPECIFIED
European Social FundUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Mercury, lithosphere, interior, temperature
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110304-085149877
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Official Citation:Williams, J.-P., J. Ruiz, M. A. Rosenburg, O. Aharonson, and R. J. Phillips (2011), Insolation driven variations of Mercury's lithospheric strength, J. Geophys. Res., 116, E01008, doi:10.1029/2010JE003655.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:22654
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:04 Mar 2011 17:28
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 02:39

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