Morphological Indicators of a Mascon Beneath Ceres's Largest Crater, Kerwan

M. T. Bland, A. I. Ermakov, C. A. Raymond, David Williams, T. J. Bowling, F. Preusker, R. S. Park, S. Marchi, J. C. Castillo-Rogez, R. R. Fu, C. T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Gravity data of Ceres returned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Dawn spacecraft is consistent with a lower density crust of variable thickness overlying a higher density mantle. Crustal thickness variations can affect the long-term, postimpact modification of impact craters on Ceres. Here we show that the unusual morphology of the 280 km diameter crater Kerwan may result from viscous relaxation in an outer layer that thins substantially beneath the crater floor. We propose that such a structure is consistent with either impact-induced uplift of the high-density mantle beneath the crater or from volatile loss during the impact event. In either case, the subsurface structure inferred from the crater morphology is superisostatic, and the mass excess would result in a positive Bouguer anomaly beneath the crater, consistent with the highest-degree gravity data from Dawn. Ceres joins the Moon, Mars, and Mercury in having basin-associated gravity anomalies, although their origin may differ substantially.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1297-1304
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 16 2018


  • Ceres
  • crater morphology
  • gravity anomaly
  • interior structure
  • mascon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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