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The Formation of Mercury's Smooth Plains

Kiefer, Walter S. and Murray, Bruce C. (1987) The Formation of Mercury's Smooth Plains. Icarus, 72 (3). pp. 477-491. ISSN 0019-1035. doi:10.1016/0019-1035(87)90046-7.

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There has been extensive debate about whether Mercury's smooth plains are volcanic features or impact ejecta deposits. We present new indirect evidence which supports a volcanic origin for two different smooth plains units. In Borealis Planitia, stratigraphic relations indicate at least two distinct stages of smooth plains formation. At least one of these stages must have had a volcanic origin. In the Hilly and Lineated Terrain, Petrarch and several other anomalously shallow craters apparently have been volcanically filled. Areally extensive smooth plains volcanism evidently occurred at these two widely separated areas on Mercury. These results, combined with work by other researchers on the circum-Caloris plains and the Tolstoi basin, show that smooth plains volcanism was a global process on Mercury. Present data suggest to us that the smooth and intercrater plains may represent two distinct episodes of volcanic activity on Mercury and that smooth plains volcanism may have been triggered by the Caloris impact. High-resolution and multispectral imaging from a future Mercury spacecraft could resolve many of the present uncertainties in our understanding of plains formation on Mercury.

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Additional Information:© 1987 Academic Press, Inc. Received October 28, 1986; revised July 2, 1987. We thank W. W. Anderson, H, J. Melosh, P. H. Schultz, E. M. Shoemaker, D. J. Stevenson, S. W. Squyres, and R. G. Strom for helpful discussions at various stages of this work. We also thank Bruce Hapke for providing the color-ratio data in Fig. 2 and Paul Spudis for providing results of his mapping and crater counts prior to publication. Paul Spudis and an anonymous reviewer provided useful comments on the original manuscript. This work has been supported by NASA Grant NAGW 549 and by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship to W.S.K.
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NSF Graduate FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
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Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences4417
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140409-142004185
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Official Citation:Walter S. Kiefer, Bruce C. Murray, The formation of Mercury's smooth plains, Icarus, Volume 72, Issue 3, December 1987, Pages 477-491, ISSN 0019-1035, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:44829
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:09 Apr 2014 21:37
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:56

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