Geology and Surface Processes on Titan

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Abstract

The surface of Titan has been revealed globally, if incompletely, by Cassini observations at infrared and radar wavelengths as well as locally by the instruments on the Huygens probe. Extended dune fields, lakes, mountainous terrain, dendritic erosion patterns and erosional remnants indicate dynamic surface processes. Valleys, small-scale gullies and rounded cobbles such as those observed at the Huygens landing site require erosion by energetic flow of a liquid. There is strong evidence that liquid hydrocarbons are ponded on the surface in high-latitude lakes, predominantly, but not exclusively, at high northern latitudes. A variety of features including extensive flows and caldera-like constructs are interpreted to be cryovolcanic in origin. Chains and isolated blocks of rugged terrain rising from smoother areas are best described as mountains and might be related to tectonic processes. Finally, impact craters are observed but their small numbers indicate that the crater retention age is very young overall. In general, Titan exhibits a geologically active surface indicating significant endogenic and exogenic processes, with diverse geophysical and atmospheric processes reminiscent of those on Earth.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Geology and Surface Processes on Titan
ISBN 978-1-4020-9214-5
DOI 10.1007/978-1-4020-9215-2_5
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher Springer, Dordrecht
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 66 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Titan from Cassini-Huygens
First page 75
Last page 140