Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10995/111727
Title: Boulders on Mercury
Authors: Kreslavsky, M. A.
Zharkova, A. Y.
Head, J. W.
Gritsevich, M. I.
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Academic Press Inc.
Elsevier BV
Citation: Boulders on Mercury / M. A. Kreslavsky, A. Y. Zharkova, J. W. Head et al. — DOI 10.1103/PhysRevB.74.045314 // Icarus. — 2021. — Vol. 369. — 114628.
Abstract: Boulders on the surfaces of planets, satellites and small bodies, as well as their geological associations, provide important information about surface processes. We analyzed all available images of the surface of Mercury that have sufficient resolution and quality to detect boulders, and we mapped all the boulders observed. The lower size limit of detectable boulders was ~5 m. All boulders found on Mercury are associated with fresh impact craters hundreds of meters in diameter or larger. We compared boulder population on Mercury with population of boulders of the same size on the Moon, and found that boulders on Mercury are ~30 times less abundant than in the lunar highlands. This exact quantitative estimate is inherently inaccurate due to the limitation in the source data; however, the significant relative rarity of boulders on Mercury can be firmly and reliably established. We discuss possible causes of the observed difference. Higher thermal stresses and more rapid material fatigue due to diurnal temperature cycling on Mercury may cause rapid disintegration of the upper decimeters of the boulder surface and thus contribute to more rapid boulder obliteration; however, these factors alone cannot account for the observed difference. A proposed thicker regolith on Mercury is likely to significantly reduce boulder production rate. A higher micrometeoritic flux on Mercury is likely to result in micrometeoritic abrasion being a dominant contributor to boulder degradation; this high abrasion rate likely shortens the boulder lifetime. A combination of these factors appears to be able to account for the relative rarity of boulders on Mercury. © 2021 Elsevier Inc.
Keywords: IMPACT PROCESSES
MERCURY SURFACE
MOON SURFACE
REGOLITHS
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10995/111727
Access: info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
SCOPUS ID: 85111069858
PURE ID: 22978846
ISSN: 0019-1035
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.74.045314
metadata.dc.description.sponsorship: We are grateful to P. Senthil Kumar and an anonymous reviewer for their positive and helpful reviews. We appreciate useful discussions with Larissa Starukhina. This paper is partly based upon work supported by NASA under award number 80NSSC17K0217 to MK. JWH acknowledges support from the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Mission, Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) Experiment Team, for the study of lunar slopes and bedrock exposures, under NASA Grant 80NSSC19K0605 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration-Goddard . MG acknowledges the Academy of Finland project no. 325806 (PlanetS) and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research project no. 19-05-00028.
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