Landslides on Ceres: Inferences Into Ice Content and Layering in the Upper Crust

H. T. Chilton, B. E. Schmidt, K. Duarte, K. L. Ferrier, K. H.G. Hughson, J. E.C. Scully, J. J. Wray, H. G. Sizemore, A. Nathues, T. Platz, N. Schorghofer, P. M. Schenk, M. E. Landis, M. Bland, S. Byrne, C. T.R. Russell, C. A. Raymond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We analyze landslides on Ceres using several quantitative approaches to constrain the composition and structure of the top few kilometers of Ceres' crust. We focus on a subset of archetypal landslides classified morphologically as thick, steep-snouted “type 1” (T1) flows and thin spatulate “type 2” (T2) flows (Schmidt et al., 2017, to explore the landslides' mechanical properties. Our results confirm earlier observations showing that T1 landslides are typically found poleward of 70° latitude and T2 mostly equatorward of 70° latitude. Measurements of landslide drop height and runout length imply effective friction coefficients lower than common friction coefficients in any of Ceres' identified or suggested non-ice surface materials, including saturated clays. Our measurements of the volume and area of landslide scars suggest that T1 landslides can fail to greater depths than T2 for a given scar area, consistent with depth-limited failure in T2 landslides. These results are consistent with a layer of lower shear strength material overlying a stronger layer in Ceres' outer shell at low to middle latitudes and a single layer without an overlying weak layer at polar latitudes. Combining these observations with known constraints on Ceres' near-surface composition, we propose that Ceres' crust at low to middle latitudes consists of a topmost layer with an ice content in excess of the spectral and elemental detection depths, thins out at high latitudes, and overlies a stronger and more ice-rich layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1512-1524
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Ceres
  • ground ice
  • landslides
  • surface processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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