Insights into complex layered ejecta emplacement and subsurface stratigraphy in Chryse Planitia, Mars, through an analysis of THEMIS brightness temperature data

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Journal Article
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 2016, 121 (6), pp. 986 - 1015
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© 2016. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Layered ejecta craters on Mars have been interpreted to indicate the presence of volatiles in the substrate, making them important targets for the investigation of sites of astrobiological significance. If the ejecta are associated with the presence of water in the substratum, specific surface grain size trends are expected. In this study we explore the distribution of grain sizes in the layered ejecta of impact craters located in Chryse Planitia, using Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) thermal infrared data. Ejecta grain size trends, in conjunction with ejecta mobility and lobateness values, are applied to assess the degree of surface flow of the ejecta, and in turn to constrain the plausible volatile abundance, cohesion, and fine particle content of the target materials. Craters with a larger fraction of small grain sizes in their ejecta showed greater ejecta mobility and lobateness, consistent with a water-rich and/or a low-cohesion target. Craters displaying decreasing grain size with increasing radius had smaller diameters and lower ejecta mobility and lobateness, indicating only a minimal component of surface ejecta flow. Ejecta grain size trends varied with crater diameter, from which the presence of vertical compositional stratigraphy in Chryse Planitia is inferred and interpreted. Our observations are synthesized into a number of plausible geologic scenarios for Chryse Planitia.
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