Martian pedestal craters: Marginal sublimation pits implicate a climate-related formation mechanism

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Abstract

[1] Pedestal craters on Mars are defined by an outward-facing scarp forming a plateau perched tens of meters above the surrounding terrain. Their origin has been attributed to impact armoring of the surface and subsequent removal of inter-crater terrain by either eolian deflation or sublimation of an ice-rich substrate. We identified 2696 pedestal craters between ∼60°N and 60°S latitude; 98% are poleward of 33°N and 40°S. The majority of pedestal crater margins are smoothly sloped, but ∼3%, concentrated in Utopia Planitia and Malea Planum, display distinctive marginal pits. These pedestal crater scarps are anomalously tall (usually >80–100 m) and the pits resemble sublimation depressions seen on Earth and elsewhere on Mars, providing evidence for sublimation of volatiles in the scarp, where the armored surface has tapered. The pitted scarps provide insight into the origin of the general pedestal crater population, favoring formation via deposition of a volatile-rich substrate, impact armoring, and sublimation of intervening volatiles. Crater densities and overlapping pedestal craters suggest multiple periods of emplacement and loss of these climate-related, latitude-dependent deposits throughout the Amazonian.

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