The University of Arizona

Polygonal impact craters in Argyre region, Mars: Implications for geology and cratering mechanics



Impact craters are not always circular; sometimes their rims are composed of several straight segments. Such polygonal impact craters (PICs) are controlled by pre-existing target structures, mainly faults or other similar planes of weakness. In the Argyre region, Mars, PICs comprise ?17% of the total impact crater population (>7 km in diameter), and PICs are relatively more common in older geologic units. Their formation is mainly controlled by radial fractures induced by the Argyre and Ladon impact basins, and to a lesser extent by the basin-concentric fractures. Also basin-induced conjugate shear fractures may play a role. Unlike the PICs, ridges and graben in the Argyre region are mostly controlled by Tharsis-induced tectonism, with the ridges being concentric and graben radial to Tharsis. Therefore, the PICs primarily reflect an old impact basin-centered tectonic pattern, whereas Tharsis-centered tectonism responsible for the graben and the ridges has only minor influence on the PIC rim orientations. According to current models of PIC formation, complex PICs should form through a different mechanism than simple PICs, leading to different orientations of straight rim segments. However, when simple and complex PICs from same areas are studied, no statistically significant difference can be observed. Hence, in addition to enhanced excavation parallel to the strike of fractures (simple craters) and slumping along the fracture planes (complex craters), we propose a third mechanism involving thrusting along the fracture planes. This model is applicable to both simple and small complex craters in targets with some dominating orientations of structural weakness.


Crater;Basins; Impact tectonics;Argyre

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