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Geology of the Selk crater region on Titan from Cassini VIMS observations

January 1, 2010

Observations of Titan obtained by the Cassini Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) have revealed Selk crater, a geologically young, bright-rimmed, impact crater located ???800. km north-northwest of the Huygens landing site. The crater rim-crest diameter is ???90. km; its floor diameter is ???60. km. A central pit/peak, 20-30. km in diameter, is seen; the ratio of the size of this feature to the crater diameter is consistent with similarly sized craters on Ganymede and Callisto, all of which are dome craters. The VIMS data, unfortunately, are not of sufficient resolution to detect such a dome. The inner rim of Selk crater is fluted, probably by eolian erosion, while the outer flank and presumed ejecta blanket appear dissected by drainages (particularly to the east), likely the result of fluvial erosion. Terracing is observed on the northern and western walls of Selk crater within a 10-15. km wide terrace zone identified in VIMS data; the terrace zone is bright in SAR data, consistent with it being a rough surface. The terrace zone is slightly wider than those observed on Ganymede and Callisto and may reflect differences in thermal structure and/or composition of the lithosphere. The polygonal appearance of the crater likely results from two preexisting planes of weakness (oriented at azimuths of 21?? and 122?? east of north). A unit of generally bright terrain that exhibits similar infrared-color variation and contrast to Selk crater extends east-southeast from the crater several hundred kilometers. We informally refer to this terrain as the Selk "bench." Both Selk and the bench are surrounded by the infrared-dark Belet dune field. Hypotheses for the genesis of the optically bright terrain of the bench include: wind shadowing in the lee of Selk crater preventing the encroachment of dunes, impact-induced cryovolcanism, flow of a fluidized-ejecta blanket (similar to the bright crater outflows observed on Venus), and erosion of a streamlined upland formed in the lee of Selk crater by fluid flow. Vestigial circular outlines in this feature just east of Selk's ejecta blanket suggest that this might be a remnant of an ancient, cratered crust. Evidently the southern margin of the feature has sufficient relief to prevent the encroachment of dunes from the Belet dune field. We conclude that this feature either represents a relatively high-viscosity, fluidized-ejecta flow (a class intermediate to ejecta blankets and long venusian-style ejecta flows) or a streamlined upland remnant that formed downstream from the crater by erosive fluid flow from the west-northwest. ?? 2010 Elsevier Inc.

Publication Year 2010
Title Geology of the Selk crater region on Titan from Cassini VIMS observations
DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2010.03.001
Authors J.M. Soderblom, R. H. Brown, L. A. Soderblom, J. W. Barnes, R. Jaumann, Stéphane Le Mouélic, Christophe Sotin, K. Stephan, K. H. Baines, B. J. Buratti, R. N. Clark, P. D. Nicholson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Icarus
Index ID 70037266
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse