Reports

Evidence for a basalt-free surface on Mercury and implications for internal heat

Science  09 Jun 1995:
Vol. 268, Issue 5216, pp. 1455-1457
DOI: 10.1126/science.7770770

Abstract

Microwave and mid-infrared observations reveal that Mercury's surface contains less FeO + TiO2 and at least as much feldspar as the lunar highlands. The results are compatible with the high albedo (brightness) of Mercury's surface at visible wavelengths in suggesting a rock and soil composition that is devoid of basalt, the primary differentiate of terrestrial mantles. The occurrence of a basalt-free, highly differentiated crust is in accord with recent models of the planet's thermal evolution and suggests that Mercury has retained a hot interior as a result of a combination of inefficient mantle convection and minimal volcanic heat loss.

Related Content