Impact heat driven volatile redistribution at Occator crater on Ceres as a comparative planetary process

P. Schenk, J. Scully, D. Buczkowski, H. Sizemore, B. Schmidt, C. Pieters, A. Neesemann, D. O’Brien, S. Marchi, D. Williams, A. Nathues, M. De Sanctis, F. Tosi, C. T. Russell, J. Castillo-Rogez, C. Raymond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Hydrothermal processes in impact environments on water-rich bodies such as Mars and Earth are relevant to the origins of life. Dawn mapping of dwarf planet (1) Ceres has identified similar deposits within Occator crater. Here we show using Dawn high-resolution stereo imaging and topography that Ceres’ unique composition has resulted in widespread mantling by solidified water- and salt-rich mud-like impact melts with scattered endogenic pits, troughs, and bright mounds indicative of outgassing of volatiles and periglacial-style activity during solidification. These features are distinct from and less extensive than on Mars, indicating that Occator melts may be less gas-rich or volatiles partially inhibited from reaching the surface. Bright salts at Vinalia Faculae form thin surficial precipitates sourced from hydrothermal brine effusion at many individual sites, coalescing in several larger centers, but their ages are statistically indistinguishable from floor materials, allowing for but not requiring migration of brines from deep crustal source(s).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3679
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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