The Geologic History of Mercury

Brett W. Denevi, Carolyn M. Ernst, Louise M. Prockter, Mark S. Robinson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

21 Scopus citations


We assess Mercury’s geologic history, focusing on the distribution and origin of terrain types and an overview of Mercury’s evolution from the pre-Tolstojan through the Kuiperian Period. We review evidence for the nature of Mercury’s early crust, including the possibility that a substantial portion formed by the global eruption of lavas generated by partial melting during and after overturn of the crystalline products of magma ocean cooling, whereas a much smaller fraction of the crust may have been derived from crystal flotation in such a magma ocean. The early history of Mercury may thus have been similar to that of the other terrestrial planets, with much of the crust formed through volcanism, in contrast to the flotation-dominated crust of the Moon. Small portions of Mercury’s early crust may still be exposed in a heavily modified and brecciated form; the majority of the surface is dominated by intercrater plains (Pre-Tolstojan and Tolstojan in age) and smooth plains (Tolstojan and Calorian) that formed through a combination of volcanism and impact events. As effusive volcanism waned in the Calorian, explosive volcanism continued at least through the Mansurian Period; the Kuiperian Period was dominated by impact events and the formation of hollows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMercury
Subtitle of host publicationThe View after Messenger
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781316650684
ISBN (Print)9781107154452
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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