Special Reports

Geology of the Caloris Basin, Mercury: A View from MESSENGER

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Science  04 Jul 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5885, pp. 73-76
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159261

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Abstract

The Caloris basin, the youngest known large impact basin on Mercury, is revealed in MESSENGER images to be modified by volcanism and deformation in a manner distinct from that of lunar impact basins. The morphology and spatial distribution of basin materials themselves closely match lunar counterparts. Evidence for a volcanic origin of the basin's interior plains includes embayed craters on the basin floor and diffuse deposits surrounding rimless depressions interpreted to be of pyroclastic origin. Unlike lunar maria, the volcanic plains in Caloris are higher in albedo than surrounding basin materials and lack spectral evidence for ferrous iron-bearing silicates. Tectonic landforms, contractional wrinkle ridges and extensional troughs, have distributions and age relations different from their counterparts in and around lunar basins, indicating a different stress history.

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