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Planetary caves: A Solar System view of processes and products

October 28, 2022

We provide the first solar system wide compendium of speleogenic processes and products. An examination of 15 solar system bodies revealed that six cave-forming processes occur beyond Earth including volcanic (cryo and magmatic), fracturing (tectonic and impact melt), dissolution, sublimation, suffusion, and landslides. Although no caves (i.e., confirmed entrances with associated linear passages) have been confirmed, 3,545 SAPs (subsurface access points) have been identified on 11 planetary bodies and the potential for speleogenic processes (and thus SAPs) was observed on an additional four planetary bodies. The bulk of our knowledge on extraterrestrial SAPs is based upon global databases for the Moon and Mars, which are bodies for which high-resolution imagery and other data are available. To further characterize most of the features beyond the Moon and Mars, acquisition (preferably global coverage) and subsequent analysis of high-resolution imagery will be required. The next few decades hold considerable promise for identifying and potentially characterizing caves across the solar system.

Publication Year 2022
Title Planetary caves: A Solar System view of processes and products
DOI 10.1029/2022JE007303
Authors J. Judson Wynne, John E. Mylroie, Timothy N. Titus, Michael J. Malaska, Debra L. Buczkowski, Peter B. Buhler, Paul K. Byrne, Glen E. Cushing, Ashley Gerard Davies, Amos Frumkin, Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, Victoria Hiatt, Jason D. Hofgartner, Trudi Hoogenboom, Ulyana Horodyskyj, Kynan H. G. Hughson, Laura A. Kerber, Margaret E. Landis, Erin J. Leonard, Elodie Lesage, Alice Lucchetti, Matteo Massironi, Karl L. Mitchell, Luca Penasa, Cynthia B. Phillips, Riccardo Pozzobon, Jani Radebaugh, Francesco Sauro, Robert V. Wagner, Thomas R. Watters
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title JGR Planets
Index ID 70237948
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center