Composition of the Rheasilvia basin, a window into Vesta's interior

Harry Y. McSween, Eleonora Ammannito, Vishnu Reddy, Thomas H. Prettyman, Andrew W. Beck, M. Cristina De Sanctis, Andreas Nathues, Lucille Le Corre, David P. O'Brien, Naoyuki Yamashita, Timothy J. McCoy, David W. Mittlefehldt, Michael J. Toplis, Paul Schenk, Ernesto Palomba, Diego Turrini, Federico Tosi, Francesca Zambon, Andrea Longobardo, Fabrizio CapaccioniCarol A. Raymond, Christopher T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


The estimated excavation depth of the huge Rheasilvia impact basin is nearly twice the likely thickness of the Vestan basaltic crust, so the mantle should be exposed. Spectral mapping by the Dawn spacecraft reveals orthopyroxene-rich materials, similar to diogenite meteorites, in the deepest parts of the basin and within its walls. Significant amounts of olivine are predicted for the mantles of bulk-chondritic bodies like Vesta, and its occurrence is demonstrated by some diogenites that are harzburgite and dunite. However, olivine has so far escaped detection by Dawn's instruments. Spectral detection of olivine in the presence of orthopyroxene is difficult in samples with <25% olivine, and olivine in Rheasilvia might have been diluted during impact mixing or covered by the collapse of basin walls. The distribution of diogenite inferred from its exposures in and around Rheasilvia provides a geologic context for the formation of these meteorites, but does not clearly distinguish between a magmatic cumulate versus partial melting restite origin for diogenites. The former is favored by geochemical arguments, and crystallization in either a magma ocean or multiple plutons emplaced near the crust-mantle boundary is permitted by Dawn observations. Key PointsExcavation of Rheasilvia has exposed Vesta's mantleMantle consists of diogeniteNo olivine has been detected

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-346
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Composition of the Rheasilvia basin, a window into Vesta's interior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this