Characteristics of impact craters in the northern hemisphere of Mars

Nadine G. Barlow

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Scopus citations


This study compares results of crater diameter, shape, ejecta morphologies, and interior morphologies in the northern hemisphere of Mars between older results reported from a Viking-derived crater catalog and a new crater catalog obtained from analysis of higher-resolution data sets, primarily Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) daytime infrared and visible data. This report focuses on results from the northern hemisphere, where the new analysis has increased the number of known craters ≥5 km in diameter by 1300 to a total of 14,224. The improved resolution and overall clarity of the new image data sets have improved the classifi - cation of ejecta and interior morphologies. This study fi nds that ~3% of the craters display evidence of oblique impact (through elliptical crater shape and/or asymmetric ejecta blankets), and many show an east-west orientation for the major diameter, indicating impact trajectories approximately parallel to the present-day Martian equator. No strong indication of extended periods of high obliquity or polar wander is recorded within the elliptical crater population. Ejecta morphologies are divided into seven classes, with most fresh craters (92%) displaying one of the three layered ejecta morphologies. Diameter and geographic distributions of the different ejecta morphologies are similar to those reported from Viking analysis. A study of the two types of double layer ejecta craters fi nds that crater diameter and terrain characteristics are the primary factors leading to the different morphologies. Interior morphologies are divided into nine classes, with most Martian impact craters containing some type of fl oor deposit from eolian, fl uvial, glacial, volcanic, or impact processes. Wall terraces, fl at fl oors, and fractured (chaotic) fl oors are strongly concentrated in highlands regions. Central peak and summit pit craters are found in similar regions, particularly in the highlands, but fl oor pit craters are distributed across both highlands and plains units. Target strength appears to be an important factor in the formation of many of these interior morphologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLarge Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution V
EditorsDavid A. Kring, Gordon R. Osinski
PublisherGeological Society of America
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9780813725185
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NameSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
ISSN (Print)0072-1077

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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