Geomorphologic mapping of the Menrva region of Titan using Cassini RADAR data

David Williams, Jani Radebaugh, Rosaly M C Lopes, Ellen Stofan

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21 Scopus citations


We made a detailed geomorphologic map of the Menrva region of Titan, using Cassini RADAR data as our map base. Using similar techniques and approaches that were applied to mapping Magellan radar images of Venus, and earlier, more generalized Titan maps, we were able to define and characterize 10 radar morphologic units, along with inferred dunes and fluvial channels, from the RADAR data. Structural features, such as scarps, ridges, and lineaments were also identified. Using principles of superposition, cross-cutting, and embayment relations we created a sequence of map units for this region. We interpret Menrva to be a 440. km wide degraded impact basin, in agreement with earlier studies by Elachi et al. (Elachi, C. et al. [2006]. Nature 441, 709-713) and Wood et al. (Wood, C.A., Lorenz, R., Kirk, R., Lopes, R., Mitchell, K., Stofan, E., and the Cassini RADAR Team [2010]. Icarus 206, 334-344), and identify it as the oldest feature in the map region. Exogenic processes including hydrocarbon fluid channelization forming the Elivagar Flumina channel network and dune fields resulting from aeolian activity are the current geologic processes dominating our map area, and these processes have contributed to the erosion of the crater's ejecta field. There is evidence of multiple episodes of channel formation, erosion and burial by aeolian deposits, as observed elsewhere on Titan by e.g., Barnes et al. (Barnes, J.W. et al. [2005]. Icarus 195, 400-414). Channel outflow regions have morphologies suggestive of streams formed by flash floods, and dune fields are small and restricted rather than forming large dune seas, consistent with a desert-like environment for this region with low supply of hydrocarbon particles, also consistent with other studies by e.g., Lorenz et al. (Lorenz, R.D. et al. [2008a]. Planet. Space Sci. 56, 1132-1144). There is no evidence of cryovolcanism or non-impact-related tectonic activity in the Menrva region, although this region is too small to infer anything about the roles of these processes elsewhere on Titan. This work suggests detailed geomorphologic mapping can confidently be applied to Cassini RADAR data, and we suggest that more extensive mapping should be done using RADAR, ISS, and VIMS data geographically distributed across Titan to assess its usefulness for a future combined RADAR-ISS-VIMS-based global geologic map.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-750
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Geological processes
  • Radar observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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