Sequence and mechanisms of deformation around the Hellas and Isidis Impact Basins on Mars
Article first published online: 20 SEP 2012
Copyright 1989 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth (1978–2012)
Volume 94, Issue B12, pages 17333–17357, 10 December 1989
How to Cite
1989), Sequence and mechanisms of deformation around the Hellas and Isidis Impact Basins on Mars, J. Geophys. Res., 94(B12), 17333–17357, doi:10.1029/JB094iB12p17333., and (
- Issue published online: 20 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 20 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 5 JUL 1989
- Manuscript Received: 28 NOV 1988
The distribution and age of early volcanic and tectonic features surrounding the Hellas and Isidis impact basins are shown to fit a four-stage sequence. First, concentric “canyons” form outside the basin boundary scarp at or near the time of basin formation, followed shortly thereafter by radial troughs extending beyond the boundary scarp. After a hiatus, concentric graben develop inside the basin within the massif ring. Finally, soon after graben formation, widespread volcanic plains are emplaced between the massif ring and the boundary scarp to one side of the basin. Three models of basin-centered deformation are compared to these observed deformation events: elastic flexure due to loading, elastic flexure due to uplift, and impact fracture. A central load of basin fill can account for concentric fractures by elastic flexure around the load. Formation of the distant concentric canyons, however, requires lithospheric thicknesses a factor of 5 greater than those indicated by planetary thermal history models and an increase in feature width by an order of magnitude relative to flexural graben identified elsewhere on Mars and the Moon. Although inclusion of loading by basin ejecta reduces the required lithospheric thickness to acceptable values, flexure still fails to account for the large canyon widths observed. Impact fracture from a rapid inward flow of asthenosphere during transient cavity collapse, however, is consistent with the three key observational constraints for the distant canyons: their age, width, and distance from the basin. As the basin then undergoes isostatic uplift soon after impact, elastic flexure induces a radial pattern of failure consistent with the observed extent and timing of the radial troughs. Later, after a long period of basin infilling, elastic failure due to loading of the central basin region can account for the ring grabens in the massif ring. The localization of volcanism into a single ridged plains unit on the basin rim indicates a thermal source offset from the basin which is not included in these models and perhaps reflects an additional mechanism unique to Mars.