Mercury's geochronology revised by applying Model Production Function to Mariner 10 data: Geological implications

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Abstract

[1] Model Production Function (MPF) chronology uses dynamic models of the Main Belt Asteroids (MBAs) and Near Earth Objects (NEOs) to derive the impactor flux to a target body. This is converted into the crater size-frequency-distribution for a specific planetary surface, and calibrated using the radiometric ages of different regions of the Moon's surface. This new approach has been applied to the crater counts on Mariner 10 images of the highlands and of several large impact basins on Mercury. MPF estimates for the plains show younger ages than those of previous chronologies. Assuming a variable uppermost layering of the Hermean crust, the age of the Caloris interior plains may be as young as 3.59 Ga, in agreement with MESSENGER results that imply that long-term volcanism overcame contractional tectonics. The MPF chronology also suggests a variable projectile flux through time, coherent with the MBAs for ancient periods and then gradually comparable also to the NEOs.

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