The digital global geologic map of Mars: chronostratigraphic ages, topographic and crater morphologic characteristics, and updated resurfacing history

Planetary and Space Science

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DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2013.03.006



A new global geologic map of Mars has been completed in a digital, geographic information system (GIS) format using geospatially controlled altimetry and image data sets. The map reconstructs the geologic history of Mars, which includes many new findings collated in the quarter century since the previous, Viking-based global maps were published, as well as other discoveries that were made during the course of the mapping using new data sets. The technical approach enabled consistent and regulated mapping that is appropriate not only for the map's 1:20,000,000 scale but also for its widespread use by diverse audiences. Each geologic unit outcrop includes basic attributes regarding identity, location, area, crater densities, and chronostratigraphic age. In turn, units are grouped by geographic and lithologic types, which provide synoptic global views of material ages and resurfacing character for the Noachian, Hesperian, and Amazonian periods. As a consequence of more precise and better quality topographic and morphologic data and more complete crater-density dating, our statistical comparisons identify significant refinements for how Martian geologic terrains are characterized. Unit groups show trends in mean elevation and slope that relate to geographic occurrence and geologic origin. In comparison with the previous global geologic map series based on Viking data, the new mapping consists of half the number of units due to simpler, more conservative and globally based approaches to discriminating units. In particular, Noachian highland surfaces overall have high percentages of their areas now dated as an epoch older than in the Viking mapping. Minimally eroded (i.e., pristine) impact craters ≥3 km in diameter occur in greater proportion on Hesperian surfaces. This observation contrasts with a deficit of similarly sized craters on heavily cratered and otherwise degraded Noachian terrain as well as on young Amazonian surfaces. We interpret these as reflecting the relatively stronger, lava-rich, yet less-impacted materials making up much of the younger units. Reconstructions of resurfacing of Mars by its eight geologic epochs using the Hartmann and Neukum chronology models indicate high rates of highland resurfacing during the Noachian (peaking at 0.3 km2/yr during the Middle Noachian), modest rates of volcanism and transition zone and lowland resurfacing during the Hesperian (∼0.1 km2/yr), and low rates of mainly volcanic and polar resurfacing (∼0.01 km2/yr) for most of the Amazonian. Apparent resurfacing increased in the Late Amazonian (∼0.03 km2/yr), perhaps due to better preservation of this latest record.

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The digital global geologic map of Mars: chronostratigraphic ages, topographic and crater morphologic characteristics, and updated resurfacing history
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Planetary and Space Science
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Astrogeology Science Center
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