Digital Elevation Models Aid the Analysis of Double Layered Ejecta (DLE) Impact Craters on Mars

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 5:00 PM
Peter J Mouginis-Mark1, Joseph M Boyce2 and Harold Garbeil2, (1)Univ Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, United States, (2)HIGP, Honolulu, HI, United States
Considerable debate has recently taken place concerning the origin of the inner and outer ejecta layers of double layered ejecta (DLE) craters on Mars. For craters in the diameter range ~10 to ~25 km, the inner ejecta layer of DLE craters displays characteristic grooves extending from the rim crest, and has led investigators to propose three hypotheses for their formation: (1) deposition of the primary ejecta and subsequent surface scouring by either atmospheric vortices or a base surge; (2) emplacement through a landslide of the near-rim crest ejecta; and (3) instabilities (similar to Gortler vortices) generated by high flow-rate, and high granular temperatures. Critical to resolving between these models is the topographic expression of both the ejecta layer and the groove geometry. To address this problem, we have made several digital elevation models (DEMs) from CTX and HiRISE stereo pairs using the Ames Stereo Pipeline at scales of 24 m/pixel and 1 m/pixel, respectively. These DEMs allow several key observations to be made that bear directly upon the origin of the grooves associated with DLE craters: (1) Grooves formed on the sloping ejecta layer surfaces right up to the preserved crater rim; (2) There is clear evidence that grooves traverse the topographic boundary between the inner and outer ejecta layers; and (3) There are at least two different sets of radial grooves, with smaller grooves imprinted upon the larger grooves. There are “deep-wide” grooves that have a width of ~200 m and a depth of ~10 m, and there are “shallow-narrow” grooves with a width of <50 m and depth <5 m. These two scales of grooves are not consistent with their formation analogous to a landslide. Two different sets of grooves would imply that, simultaneously, two different depths to the flow would have to exist if the grooves were formed by shear within the flow, something that is not physically possible. All three observations can only be consistent with a model of groove formation by scouring of the ejecta surface after the layers were emplaced. However, it is apparent that unique characteristics exist at many different DLE craters; thus the need to generate additional DEMs to investigate local slopes, ejecta volumes, and heights of obstacles that have either diverted or been over-topped, is of continuing importance