The geology of the Kerwan quadrangle of dwarf planet Ceres: Investigating Ceres’ oldest, largest impact basin

David Williams, T. Kneissl, A. Neesemann, S. C. Mest, E. Palomba, T. Platz, A. Nathues, A. Longobardo, J. E.C. Scully, A. Ermakov, R. Jaumann, D. L. Buczkowski, M. Schäfer, G. Thangjam, C. M. Pieters, T. Roatsch, F. Preusker, S. Marchi, N. Schmedemann, H. HiesingerA. Frigeri, C. A. Raymond, C. T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We conducted a geologic mapping investigation of Dawn spacecraft data to determine the geologic history of the Kerwan impact basin region of dwarf planet Ceres, which is mostly located in the Ac-7 Kerwan Quadrangle. Geological mapping was applied to Dawn Framing Camera images from the Low Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO, 35 m/pixel) and supplemented by digital terrain models and color images from the High Altitude Mapping Orbit (HAMO, 135 m/pixel), as well as preliminary Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (VIR) and gravity data. The 284-km diameter Kerwan impact basin is the oldest unequivocal impact crater on Ceres, and has a highly discontinuous, polygonal, degraded rim and contains a 'smooth’ unit that both fills the basin floor and surrounds the degraded rim to the west, south, and east. Although there are some subtle topographic features in the Kerwan basin that could be interpreted as flow boundaries, there is no indisputable evidence of cryovolcanic features in or around the basin (however if such features existed they could be buried). Nevertheless, all data point to impact-induced melting of a cerean crust enriched in a volatile, likely water ice, to produce the Kerwan smooth material. Subsequent geologic activity in this region includes emplacement of impact craters such as Dantu, which produced a variety of colorful deposits, and rayed craters such as Rao and Cacaguat. Based on the crater size-frequency distribution absolute model ages of the Kerwan smooth material in and around the basin, marking a minimum age for the Kerwan basin, our mapping defines this as the oldest boundary within the cerean geologic timescale, separating the Pre-Kerwanan and Kerwanan Periods at > 1.3 Ga (Lunar-derived chronology model) or > 230–850 Ma (Asteroid-derived chronology model, depending on strength of target material).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-113
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Dec 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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