Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets

Thickness of the magnetic crust of Mars



[1] To estimate the thickness of the magnetic crust of Mars, six observational magnetic spectra are fitted with the theoretical spectrum expected from a novel, bimodal distribution of magnetic sources. Observational spectra differ, for each comes from a different map or model of variously selected and analyzed Mars Global Surveyor Magnetometer/Electron Reflectometer measurements of the vector magnetic field around Mars. The new theoretical spectrum represents fields from both compact sources and extended, laterally correlated sources on a spherical shell, so the estimated shell depth can now be doubled to obtain layer thickness. This typical magnetic crustal thickness is put at 47.8 ± 8.4 km. The extensive sources are enormous, typically 650 km across, and account for over half the magnetic energy at low degrees. There is some indication that these sources are relatively shallow, but the typical area remains about 330,000 km2. Granted such extended sources represent magnetization of Mars’ ancient crust in a core source field dominated by a reversing, areocentric paleodipole, each one arguably formed during a single polarity chron. How did such vast regions of magnetic crust form? A survey of many eligible mechanisms suggests magnetization of cooling igneous rock at minimal rates of about 1 to 0.1 km3/a during superchrons of order 15 to 150 Ma long.