Distribution of large-scale contractional tectonic landforms on Mercury: Implications for the origin of global stresses

Thomas R. Watters, Michelle M. Selvans, Maria E. Banks, Steven A. Hauck, Kris J. Becker, Mark Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

The surface of Mercury is dominated by contractional tectonic landforms that are evidence of global-scale crustal deformation. Using MESSENGER orbital high-incidence angle imaging and topographic data, large-scale lobate thrust fault scarps have been mapped globally. The spatial distribution and areal density of the contractional landforms are not uniform; concentrations occur in longitudinal bands and between the north and south hemispheres. Their orientations are generally north-south at low latitude to midlatitude and east-west at high latitudes. The spatial distribution and distribution of orientations of these large-scale contractional features suggest that planet-wide contraction due to interior cooling cannot be the sole source of global stresses. The nonrandom orientations are best explained by a combination of stresses from global contraction and tidal despinning combined with an equator-to-pole variation in lithospheric thickness, while the nonuniform areal density of the contractional features may indicate the influence of mantle downwelling or heterogeneities in lithospheric strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3755-3763
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume42
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 28 2015

Keywords

  • Mercury
  • stress
  • tectonics
  • thrust fault

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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