Crater population and resurfacing of the Martian north polar layered deposits

Maria E. Banks, Shane Byrne, Kapil Galla, Alfred S. McEwen, Veronica J. Bray, Colin M. Dundas, Kathryn E. Fishbaugh, Kenneth E. Herkenhoff, Bruce C. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Present-day accumulation in the north polar layered deposits (NPLD) is thought to occur via deposition on the north polar residual cap. Understanding current mass balance in relation to current climate would provide insight into the climatic record of the NPLD. To constrain processes and rates of NPLD resurfacing, a search for craters was conducted using images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera. One hundred thirty craters have been identified on the NPLD, 95 of which are located within a region defined to represent recent accumulation. High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment images of craters in this region reveal a morphological sequence of crater degradation that provides a qualitative understanding of processes involved in crater removal. A classification system for these craters was developed based on the amount of apparent degradation and infilling and where possible depth/diameter ratios were determined. The temporal and spatial distribution of crater degradation is interpreted to be close to uniform. Through comparison of the size-frequency distribution of these craters with the expected production function, the craters are interpreted to be an equilibrium population with a crater of diameter D meters having a lifetime of ∼30.75D1.14 years. Accumulation rates within these craters are estimated at 7.2D -0.14 mm/yr, which corresponds to values of ∼3-4 mm/yr and are much higher than rates thought to apply to the surrounding flat terrain. The current crater population is estimated to have accumulated in the last ∼20 kyr or less.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE08006
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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