Well-preserved low thermal inertia ejecta deposits surrounding young secondary impact craters on Mars

J. R. Hill, Philip Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Following the most recent updates to the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System daytime and nighttime infrared global mosaics, a colorized global map was produced that combines the thermophysical information from the nighttime infrared global mosaic with the morphologic context of the daytime infrared global mosaic. During the validation of this map, large numbers of low thermal inertia ejecta deposits surrounding small young impact craters were observed. A near-global survey (60°N–60°S) identified 4024 of these low thermal inertia ejecta deposits, which were then categorized based on their apparent state of degradation. Mapping their locations revealed that they occur almost exclusively in regions with intermediate-to-high thermal inertias, with distinct clusters in northern Terra Sirenum, Solis Planum, and southwestern Daedalia Planum. High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment images show that the thermophysically distinct facies of the deposits are well correlated with the estimated average ejecta grain sizes, which decrease with radial distance from the crater. Comparisons with recent primary impact craters and secondary impact craters surrounding Zunil Crater show that the low thermal inertia ejecta deposits very closely resemble the secondary craters, but not the primary craters. We conclude that the low thermal inertia ejecta deposits are secondary impact crater ejecta deposits, many of which originated from the rayed crater primary impact events, and are both well preserved and easily identifiable due to the absence of dust cover and aeolian modification that would otherwise reduce the thermal contrast between the ejecta facies and the surrounding terrain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1276-1299
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Mars
  • ejecta
  • impact craters
  • secondary craters
  • thermal inertia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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