Constraints on early events in Martian history as derived from the cratering record

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Abstract

The shapes and densities of crater size-frequency distribution curves are used to constrain two major events early in Martian history: termination of high obliteration rates and viability of the multiple impact origin of the crustal dichotomy. Distribution curves of fresh craters superposed on uplands, intercrater plains, and ridged plains display shapes and densities indicative of formation prior to the end of heavy bombardment. This observation correlates with other geologic evidence, suggesting a major change in the erosional regime following the last major basin size impact (i.e. Argrye). The downturn in the crater size-frequency distribution curves may reflect the size-frequency distribution of the impactors rather than being the result of erosion. The crustal dichotomy formed prior to the heavy bombardment intermediate epoch based on distribution curves of knobby terrain; if the dichotomy resulted from a single gigantic impact, this observation places constraints on when this event happened. An alternate theory for dichotomy formation, the multiple-impact basin idea, is questioned: since distribution curves of large basins as well as heavy bombardment era units are not represented by a -3 differential power law function, this study finds fewer basins missing on Mars compare to the Moon and Mercury than previously reported. -from Author

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Volume95
Issue numberB9
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

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