Dwell time at high pressure of meteorites during impact ejection from Mars

T. J. Bowling, B. C. Johnson, S. E. Wiggins, E. L. Walton, H. J. Melosh, T. G. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Martian meteorites are currently the only rock samples from Mars available for direct study in terrestrial laboratories. Linking individual specimens back to their source terrains is a major scientific priority, and constraining the size of the impact craters from which each sample was ejected is a critical step in achieving this goal. During ejection from the surface of Mars by hypervelocity impacts, these meteorites were briefly compressed to high temperatures and pressures. The period of time that these meteorites spent at high pressure during ejection, or the ‘dwell time’, has been used to infer the size of the crater from which they were ejected. This inference requires assumptions that relate shock duration to impactor size, and the relation used by many authors is neither physically motivated nor accurate. Using the iSALE2D shock physics code we simulate vertical impacts at high resolution to investigate the dwell time that basaltic rocks from Mars (shergottites) spend at high pressure and temperature during ejection. Future simulation of oblique impacts will lead to more accurate dwell time estimates. Ultimately, we find that dwell time is insensitive to changes in impact velocity but for a given impact, dwell times are longer for material originating from greater depth and material that experiences higher shock pressures. Using our results, we provide scaling laws for estimating impactor size. During the formation of craters 1.9, 14, and 104 km in diameter, material capable of escaping Mars will have mean dwell times of 1, 10, and 100 ms, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113689
JournalIcarus
Volume343
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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    Bowling, T. J., Johnson, B. C., Wiggins, S. E., Walton, E. L., Melosh, H. J., & Sharp, T. G. (2020). Dwell time at high pressure of meteorites during impact ejection from Mars. Icarus, 343, [113689]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.113689