Regional geomorphology and history of Titan's Xanadu province

By: , and 



Titan’s enigmatic Xanadu province has been seen in some detail with instruments from the Cassini spacecraft. The region contains some of the most rugged, mountainous terrain on Titan, with relief over 2000 m. Xanadu contains evolved and integrated river channels, impact craters, and dry basins filled with smooth, radar-dark material, perhaps sediments from past lake beds. Arcuate and aligned mountain chains give evidence of compressional tectonism, yet the overall elevation of Xanadu is puzzlingly low compared to surrounding sand seas. Lineations associated with mountain fronts and valley floors give evidence of extension that probably contributed to this regional lowering. Several locations on Xanadu’s western and southern margins contain flow-like features that may be cryovolcanic in origin, perhaps ascended from lithospheric faults related to regional downdropping late in its history. Radiometry and scatterometry observations are consistent with a water–ice or water–ammonia–ice composition to its exposed, eroded, fractured bedrock; both microwave and visible to near-infrared (v-nIR) data indicate a thin overcoating of organics, likely derived from the atmosphere. We suggest Xanadu is one of the oldest terrains on Titan and that its origin and evolution have been controlled and shaped by compressional and then extensional tectonism in the icy crust and ongoing erosion by methane rainfall.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Regional geomorphology and history of Titan's Xanadu province
Series title Icarus
DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2010.07.022
Volume 211
Issue 1
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Publisher location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 672
Last page 685
Other Geospatial Titan, Xanadu province
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details