The vanishing cryovolcanoes of Ceres

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 



Ahuna Mons is a 4 km tall mountain on Ceres interpreted as a geologically young cryovolcanic dome. Other possible cryovolcanic features are more ambiguous, implying that cryovolcanism is only a recent phenomenon or that other cryovolcanic structures have been modified beyond easy identification. We test the hypothesis that Cerean cryovolcanic domes viscously relax, precluding ancient domes from recognition. We use numerical models to predict flow velocities of Ahuna Mons to be 10–500 m/Myr, depending upon assumptions about ice content, rheology, grain size, and thermal parameters. Slower flow rates in this range are sufficiently fast to induce extensive relaxation of cryovolcanic structures over 108–109 years, but gradual enough for Ahuna Mons to remain identifiable today. Positive topographic features, including a tholus underlying Ahuna Mons, may represent relaxed cryovolcanic structures. A composition for Ahuna Mons of >40% ice explains the observed distribution of cryovolcanic structures because viscous relaxation renders old cryovolcanoes unrecognizable.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The vanishing cryovolcanoes of Ceres
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/2016GL072319
Volume 44
Issue 3
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 8 p.
First page 1243
Last page 1250
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