Insolation driven variations of Mercury’s lithospheric strength



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Williams, Jean-Pierre and Ruiz Pérez, Javier and Rosenburg, Margaret A. and Aharonson, Oded and Phillips, Roger J (2011) Insolation driven variations of Mercury’s lithospheric strength. Journal of geophysical research , 116 (E01008). pp. 1-13. ISSN 0148-0227

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Mercury’s coupled 3:2 spin‐orbit resonance in conjunction with its relatively high
eccentricity of ∼0.2 and near‐zero obliquity results in both a latitudinal and longitudinal
variation in annual average solar insolation and thus equatorial hot and cold regions.
This results in an asymmetric temperature distribution in the lithosphere and a long
wavelength lateral variation in lithosphere structure and strength that mirrors the insolation
pattern. We employ a thermal evolution model for Mercury generating strength envelopes
of the lithosphere to demonstrate and quantify the possible effects the insolation pattern
has on Mercury’s lithosphere. We find the heterogeneity in lithosphere strength is
substantial and increases with time. We also find that a crust thicker than that of the Moon
or Mars and dry rheologies for the crust and mantle are favorable when compared with
estimates of brittle‐ductile transition depths derived from lobate scarps. Regions of
stronger and weaker compressive strength imply that the accommodation of radial
contraction of Mercury as its interior cooled, manifest as lobate scarps, may not be
isotropic, imparting a preferential orientation and distribution to the lobate scarps.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Mercury; Lithosphere
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Geodynamics
ID Code:16804
Deposited On:22 Oct 2012 08:52
Last Modified:07 Feb 2014 09:36

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