The geology of Hotei Regio, Titan: Correlation of Cassini VIMS and RADAR


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DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2009.07.033



Joint Cassini VIMS and RADAR SAR data of ???700-km-wide Hotei Regio reveal a rich collection of geological features that correlate between the two sets of images. The degree of correlation is greater than anywhere else seen on Titan. Central to Hotei Regio is a basin filled with cryovolcanic flows that are anomalously bright in VIMS data (in particular at 5 ??m) and quite variable in roughness in SAR. The edges of the flows are dark in SAR data and appear to overrun a VIMS-bright substrate. SAR-stereo topography shows the flows to be viscous, 100-200 m thick. On its southern edge the basin is ringed by higher (???1 km) mountainous terrain. The mountains show mixed texture in SAR data: some regions are extremely rough, exhibit low and spectrally neutral albedo in VIMS data and may be partly coated with darker hydrocarbons. Around the southern margin of Hotei Regio, the SAR image shows several large, dendritic, radar-bright channels that flow down from the mountainous terrain and terminate in dark blue patches, seen in VIMS images, whose infrared color is consistent with enrichment in water ice. The patches are in depressions that we interpret to be filled with fluvial deposits eroded and transported by liquid methane in the channels. In the VIMS images the dark blue patches are encased in a latticework of lighter bands that we suggest to demark a set of circumferential and radial fault systems bounding structural depressions. Conceivably the circular features are tectonic structures that are remnant from an ancient impact structure. We suggest that impact-generated structures may have simply served as zones of weakness; no direct causal connection, such as impact-induced volcanism, is implied. We also speculate that two large dark features lying on the northern margin of Hotei Regio could be calderas. In summary the preservation of such a broad suite of VIMS infrared color variations and the detailed correlation with features in the SAR image and SAR topography evidence a complex set of geological processes (pluvial, fluvial, tectonic, cryovolcanic, impact) that have likely remained active up to very recent geological time (<104 year). That the cryovolcanic flows are excessively bright in the infrared, particularly at 5 ??m, might signal ongoing geological activity. One study [Nelson, R.M., and 28 colleagues, 2009. Icarus 199, 429-441] reported significant 2-??m albedo changes in VIMS data for Hotei Arcus acquired between 2004 and 2006, that were interpreted as evidence for such activity. However in our review of that work, we do not agree that such evidence has yet been found.

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The geology of Hotei Regio, Titan: Correlation of Cassini VIMS and RADAR
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