Variations in Crustal Structure, Lithospheric Flexural Strength, and Isostatic Compensation Mechanisms of Mars

Friday, 19 December 2014
Min Ding, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst, Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole, MA, United States; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Cambridge, MA, United States, Jian Lin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst, Woods Hole, MA, United States and Maria T Zuber, Massachusetts Inst Tech, Cambridge, MA, United States
We analyze gravity and topography of Mars to investigate the spatial variations in crustal thickness, lithospheric strength, and mechanisms of support of prominent topographic features on Mars. The latest gravity model JGMRO110c (released in 2012) from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission has a spatial block size resolution of ~97 km (corresponding to degree-110), enabling us to resolve crustal structures at higher spatial resolution than those determined from previous degree-80 and 85 gravity models [Zuber et al., 2000; McGovern et al., 2002, 2004; Neumann et al., 2004; Belleguic et al., 2005]. Using the latest gravity data, we first inverted for a new version of crustal thickness model of Mars assuming homogeneous crust and mantle densities of 2.9 and 3.5 g/cm3. We calculated “isostatic” topography for the Airy local isostatic compensation mechanism, and “non-isostatic” topography after removing the isostatic part. We find that about 92% of the Martian surface is in relatively isostatic state, indicating either relatively small lithospheric strength and/or small vertical loading. Relatively isostatic regions include the hemispheric dichotomy, Hellas and Argyre Planitia, Noachis and Arabia Terra, and Terra Cimmeria. In contrast, regions with significant amount of non-isostatic topography include the Olympus, Ascraeus, Arsia, Pavonis, Alba, and Elysium Mons, Isidis Planitia and Valles Marineris. Their relatively large “non-isostatc topography” implies relatively strong lithospheric strength and large vertical loading. Spectral analysis of the admittance and correlation relationship between gravity and topography were conducted for the non-isostatic regions using the localized spectra method [Wieczorek and Simons, 2005, 2007] and thin-shell lithospheric flexural approximation [Forsyth, 1985; McGovern et al., 2002, 2004]. The best-fitting models reveal significant variations in the effective lithospheric thickness with the greatest values for the Olympus Mon, Valles Marineris, and Isidis Planitia; reduced values for the Ascraeus, Arsis, and Pavonis Mons; and smallest values for the Alba and Elysium Mons. Our models also suggest that there could be significant sub-surface loading underneath the Olympus, Ascraeus, Arsia, and Pavonis Mons, and Isidis Planitia.