Exogenic olivine on Vesta from Dawn Framing Camera color data

Andreas Nathues, Martin Hoffmann, Michael Schäfer, Guneshwar Thangjam, Lucille Le Corre, Vishnu Reddy, Ulrich Christensen, Kurt Mengel, Holger Sierks, Jean Baptist Vincent, Edward A. Cloutis, Christopher T. Russell, Tanja Schäfer, Pablo Gutierrez-Marques, Ian Hall, Joachim Ripken, Irene Büttner

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27 Scopus citations


In this paper we present the results of a global survey of olivine-rich lithologies on (4) Vesta. We investigated Dawn Framing Camera (FC) High Altitude Mapping Orbit (HAMO) color cubes (~60. m/pixel resolution) by using a method described in Thangjam et al. (Thangjam, G., Nathues, A., Mengel, K., Hoffmann, M., Schäfer, M., Reddy, V., Cloutis, E.A., Christensen, U., Sierks, H., Le Corre, L., Vincent, J.-B, Russell, C.T. [2014b]. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. arXiv:1408.4687 [astro-ph.EP]). In total we identified 15 impact craters exhibiting olivine-rich (>40. wt.% ol) outcrops on their inner walls, some showing olivine-rich material also in their ejecta and floors. Olivine-rich sites are concentrated in the Bellicia, Arruntia and Pomponia region on Vesta's northern hemisphere. From our multi-color and stratigraphic analysis, we conclude that most, if not all, of the olivine-rich material identified is of exogenic origin, i.e. remnants of A- or/and S-type projectiles. The olivine-rich lithologies in the north are possibly ejecta of the ~90. km diameter Albana crater. We cannot draw a final conclusion on their relative stratigraphic succession, but it seems that the dark material (Nathues, A., Hoffmann, M., Cloutis, E.A., Schäfer, M., Reddy, V., Christensen, U., Sierks, H., Thangjam, G.S., Le Corre, L., Mengel, K., Vincent, J.-B., Russell, C.T., Prettyman, T., Schmedemann, N., Kneissl, T., Raymond, C., Gutierrez-Marques, P., Hall, I. Büttner, I. [2014b]. Icarus (239, 222--237)) and the olivine-rich lithologies are of a similar age. The origin of some potential olivine-rich sites in the Rheasilvia basin and at crater Portia are ambiguous, i.e. these are either of endogenic or exogenic origin. However, the small number and size of these sites led us to conclude that olivine-rich mantle material, containing more than 40. wt.% of olivine, is basically absent on the present surface of Vesta. In combination with recent impact models of Veneneia and Rheasilvia (Clenet, H., Jutzi, M., Barrat, J.-A., Gillet, Ph. [2014]. Lunar Planet Sci. 45, #1349; Jutzi, M., Asphaug, E., Gillet, P., Barrat, J.-A., Benz, W. [2013]. Nature 494, 207-210), which predict an excavation depth of up to 80. km, we are confident that the crust-mantle depth is significantly deeper than predicted by most evolution models (30. km; Mittlefehldt, D.W. [2014]. Asteroid 4 Vesta: A Fully Differentiated Dwarf Planet. NASA Technical Reports Server (20140004857.pdf)) or, alternatively, the olivine-content of the (upper) mantle is lower than our detection limit, which would lead to the conclusion that Vesta's parent material was already depleted in olivine compared to CI meteorites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-482
Number of pages16
StatePublished - Sep 5 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroid Vesta
  • Asteroids, composition
  • Mineralogy
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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