Vesta's north pole quadrangle Av-1 (Albana): Geologic map and the nature of the south polar basin antipodes

David T. Blewett, Debra L. Buczkowski, Ottaviano Ruesch, Jennifer E. Scully, David P. O'Brien, Robert Gaskell, Thomas Roatsch, Timothy J. Bowling, Anton Ermakov, Harald Hiesinger, David Williams, Carol A. Raymond, Christopher T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


As part of systematic global mapping of Vesta using data returned by the Dawn spacecraft, we have produced a geologic map of the north pole quadrangle, Av-1 Albana. Extensive seasonal shadows were present in the north polar region at the time of the Dawn observations, limiting the ability to map morphological features and employ color or spectral data for determination of composition. The major recognizable units present include ancient cratered highlands and younger crater-related units (undivided ejecta, and mass-wasting material on crater floors). The antipode of Vesta's large southern impact basins, Rheasilvia and Veneneia, lie within or near the Av-1 quadrangle. Therefore it is of particular interest to search for evidence of features of the kind that are found at basin antipodes on other planetary bodies. Albedo markings known as lunar swirls are correlated with basin antipodes and the presence of crustal magnetic anomalies on the Moon, but lighting conditions preclude recognition of such albedo features in images of the antipode of Vesta's Rheasilvia basin. "Hilly and lineated terrain," found at the antipodes of large basins on the Moon and Mercury, is not present at the Rheasilvia or Veneneia antipodes. We have identified small-scale linear depressions that may be related to increased fracturing in the Rheasilvia and Veneneia antipodal areas, consistent with impact-induced stresses (Buczkowski, D. et al. [2012b]. Analysis of the large scale troughs on Vesta and correlation to a model of giant impact into a differentiated asteroid. Geol. Soc. of America Annual Meeting. Abstract 152-4; Bowling, T.J. et al. [2013]. J. Geophys. Res. - Planets, 118. The general high elevation of much of the north polar region could, in part, be a result of uplift caused by the Rheasilvia basin-forming impact, as predicted by numerical modeling (Bowling, T.J. et al. [2013]. J. Geophys. Res. - Planets, 118. However, stratigraphic and crater size-frequency distribution analysis indicate that the elevated terrain predates the two southern basins and hence is likely a remnant of the ancient vestan crust. The lack of large-scale morphological features at the basin antipodes can be attributed to weakened antipodal constructive interference of seismic waves caused by an oblique impact or by Vesta's non-spherical shape, or by attenuation of seismic waves because of the physical properties of Vesta's interior. A first-order analysis of the Dawn global digital elevation model for Vesta indicates that areas of permanent shadow are unlikely to be present in the vicinity of the north pole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Asteroid Vesta
  • Geological processes
  • Impact processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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