A Caltech Library Service

Landform degradation on Mercury, the Moon, and Mars: Evidence from crater depth/diameter relationships

Malin, Michael C. and Dzurisin, Daniel (1977) Landform degradation on Mercury, the Moon, and Mars: Evidence from crater depth/diameter relationships. Journal of Geophysical Research, 82 (2). pp. 376-388. ISSN 0148-0227. doi:10.1029/JB082i002p00376.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Morphologic classification of craters and quantitative measurements of crater depth as a function of diameter are used to investigate the relative degradational histories of Mercury, the moon, and Mars. Martian craters exhibit considerable depth variation and are generally shallower than their lunar or mercurian counterparts. On Mercury and the moon, visually fresh and degraded craters on smooth plains show no significant depth degradation except that attributed to lava flooding or local inundation by ejecta from large impacts. More heavily cratered regions on both planets display a large range of both visual and depth degradation, suggesting that most landform modification occurred before the final phase of formation of the oldest smooth plains on both planets. Depth/diameter data presented here are discussed as they relate to two early history scenarios. One scenario based on cratering and the ballistic transport of material has been suggested for Mercury, the moon, and Mars by several authors. Owing to discrepancies between this ballistic scenario and observations of crater densities and morphologies, we suggest that landforms on all these bodies also record nonballistic degradation associated with the formation of intercrater plains. Whichever scenario is applied, early, intense, bombardment-associated degradation appears to be a common element in the histories of the terrestrial planets.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Additional Information:© 1977 American Geophysical Union. Received November 14, 1975; revised August 5, 1976; accepted September 3, 1976. The authors express their appreciation to Richard Terrile of Caltech, who unselfishly provided unpublished analyses of radar observations of martian craters. D.D. was supported by an NSF graduate research fellowship. This research was supported in part by NASA grant NSG7155 and presents the results of one phase of research carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, sponsored by NASA under contract NAS7-100. Contribution 2648 of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences2648
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170419-101631732
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Malin, M. C., and D. Dzurisin (1977), Landform degradation on Mercury, the Moon, and Mars: Evidence from crater depth/diameter relationships, J. Geophys. Res., 82(2), 376–388, doi:10.1029/JB082i002p00376
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:76673
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Apr 2017 17:22
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 17:01

Repository Staff Only: item control page