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The nature and origin of Charon's smooth plains

Beyer, Ross A. and Spencer, John R. and McKinnon, William B. and Nimmo, Francis and Beddingfield, Chloe and Grundy, W. M. and Ennico, K. and Keane, James Tuttle and Moore, Jeffrey M. and Olkin, C. B. and Robbins, Stuart and Runyon, Kirby and Schenk, Paul and Singer, Kelsi and Stern, S. Alan and Weaver, H. A. and Young, L. A. (2019) The nature and origin of Charon's smooth plains. Icarus, 323 . pp. 16-32. ISSN 0019-1035.

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Charon displays extensive plains that cover the equatorial area and south to the terminator on the sub-Pluto hemisphere observed by New Horizons. We hypothesize that these plains are a result of Charon's global extension and early subsurface ocean yielding a large cryoflow that completely resurfaced this area leaving the plains and other features that we observe today. The cryoflow consisted of ammonia-rich material, and could have resurfaced this area either by cryovolcanic effusion similar to lunar maria emplacement or a mechanism similar to magmatic stoping where lithospheric blocks foundered. Geological observations, modeling of possible flow rheology, and an analysis of rille orientations support these hypotheses.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Nimmo, Francis0000-0003-3573-5915
Ennico, K.0000-0002-8847-8492
Keane, James Tuttle0000-0002-4803-5793
Olkin, C. B.0000-0002-5846-716X
Runyon, Kirby0000-0001-6361-6548
Weaver, H. A.0000-0003-0951-7762
Additional Information:© 2018 Published by Elsevier Inc. Received 17 May 2018, Revised 6 December 2018, Accepted 18 December 2018, Available online 21 January 2019. We would like to thank David P. O’Brien for his insightful and constructive reviews of this paper. We thank Brian Carcich, Orkan Umurhan, and Oliver White for their thoughtful early read-throughs. We are also grateful for the discussions with Jeff Kargel and Susan Sakimoto at the LPI Cryovolcanism Workshop in June 2018. This research has made use of NASA's Astrophysics Data System, the USGS Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS), and the QGIS geographic information system (QGIS Development Team, 2017). This material is based upon work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration via the New Horizons Project (NASA contract number NASW02008).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Pluto; Charon; Geological processes; Cryovolcanism; Image processing
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190123-075153926
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Official Citation:Ross A. Beyer, John R. Spencer, William B. McKinnon, Francis Nimmo, Chloe Beddingfield, W.M. Grundy, K. Ennico, James Tuttle Keane, Jeffrey M. Moore, C.B. Olkin, Stuart Robbins, Kirby Runyon, Paul Schenk, Kelsi Singer, S. Alan Stern, H.A. Weaver, L.A. Young, The nature and origin of Charon's smooth plains, Icarus, Volume 323, 2019, Pages 16-32, ISSN 0019-1035, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:92409
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:23 Jan 2019 17:29
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 20:44

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